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Mike Pence says US would support two-state solution between Palestine and Israel

Pence is on the first leg of a three-country tour that includes stops in Jordan and Israel.

US Vice President Mike Pence meets with King Abdullah II at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan
US Vice President Mike Pence meets with King Abdullah II at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan
Image: Raad Adayleh via AP

JORDAN’S KING HAS appealed to US Vice President Mike Pence to “rebuild trust and confidence” in the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following the fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pence, in turn, tried to reassure the monarch that the Trump administration remains committed to restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and views Jordan as a central player.

The vice president also said that “the United States of America remains committed, if the parties agree, to a two-state solution”. Such a caveat deviates from long-standing US support for a two-state solution as the only possible outcome of any peace deal.

Trump’s pivot on Jerusalem last month infuriated the Palestinians, who seek the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as a future capital. They accused the US of siding with Israel and said Washington can no longer serve as a mediator.

Jerusalem is the emotional centrepiece of the long-running conflict, and Trump’s policy shift set off protests and condemnation across Arab and Muslim countries.

Pence told Jordan’s monarch today that Trump made it clear in his announcement on Jerusalem “that we are committed to continuing to respect Jordan’s role as the custodian of holy sites, that we take no position on boundaries and final status”.

He said Jordan would continue to play a central role in any future peace efforts.

‘Rebuild trust and confidence’

The vice president also praised Jordan’s contribution to a US-led military campaign against Islamic State extremists who in recent months were pushed back from large areas in Iraq and Syria, both neighbours of Jordan.

Abdullah expressed concerns about the regional fallout from the Jerusalem decision.

“Today we have a major challenge to overcome, especially with some of the rising frustrations,” he said. He described the Pence visit as a mission “to rebuild trust and confidence” in getting to a two-state solution, in which a state of Palestine would be established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

Another cause of concern for Jordan is the Trump administration’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jordan vehemently opposes such a move is taken ahead of an Israeli-Palestinian partition deal.

Israel views Jerusalem as its unified capital.

A longstanding international consensus holds that the city’s final status should be decided through negotiations, which was also US policy going back decades.

Palestinians view Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a blatantly one-sided move.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Trump administration officials and called off a meeting with Pence that had been scheduled for mid-December.

In a new expression of that snub, Abbas overlapped with Pence in Jordan from yesterday evening to midday today, when the Palestinian leader flew to Brussels for a meeting with EU foreign ministers tomorrow. There, Abbas is expected to urge EU member states to recognize a state of Palestine in the pre-1967 lines and to step up involvement in mediation.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, an Abbas adviser, reiterated today that “the US is no longer acceptable as a mediator”.

Read: Arab leaders ‘denounce and condemn’ Trump’s stance on Jerusalem amid violent protests

More: ‘Deplorable and unacceptable’: Trump’s Jerusalem declaration sparks anger amongst global leaders

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Associated Press

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