Pence and Abbas Won’t Meet, Vice President’s Office Confirms

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Vice President Mike Pence’s office confirmed Sunday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with Pence during his upcoming trip to the Middle East following the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pence’s spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, called the decision “unfortunate” adding that the Palestinian Authority “is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters in Cairo on Saturday that Abbas would not meet with Pence when he visits the region this month, adding that the Palestinian leadership decided there would be “no formal communications” with US officials.

Pence’s office was formally notified Sunday about the decision.

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to relocate the US Embassy there from Tel AvivĀ fulfills a campaign promiseĀ and was praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it brought swift condemnation from several nations and sparked clashes around the world.

The Palestinian Authority considers the move to mean the United States “has withdrawn itself from the peace process” and “positioned itself as an actor in the conflict and not as a mediator,” Malki said.

He also said that the Palestinians “have no intention of withdrawing from the peace process” but added that they will seek a new mediator to work with toward a two-state solution.

The White House has rejected that claim, with Pence’s office saying Sunday, “the administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan.”