Palestinian President Abbas to shun Pence over Jerusalem recognition move

Palestinian President Abbas to shun Pence over Jerusalem recognition move
3 min read
09 December, 2017
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed not to meet with US vice-President Mike Pence later this month following Washington's controversial policy shift to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The decision, breaking with decades of US policy, has triggered global protests. [Getty]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not meet US Vice President Mike Pence later this month following Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The decision, breaking with decades of US policy, has triggered concern and disapproval by US allies as well as protests around the world.

In the occupied Palestinian territories, a total of four people have now been killed and dozens wounded since Trump announced the move.

The annoucement drew criticism from every other member of the UN Security Council at an emergency meeting on Friday.

"There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine," Abbas's diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khaldi told AFP

"The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision," he added.

There were fresh clashes on Saturday as Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank hurled stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds.

In the Gaza Strip, mourners vented their anger at the funerals of two people killed by Israeli troops during clashes at the border fence on Friday and the two Hamas militants killed early on Saturday.

A Palestinian woman was wounded by Israeli army fire during clashes at the border following one funeral attended by thousands in the Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.

In Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem police fired stun grenades to disperse Palestinian demonstrators on the main Salahedin Street, an AFP cameraman said.

Israeli police said the protest was "illegal" and the Palestinian Red Crescent said 12 Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from grenades or by blows from police.

There have been fears of a much larger escalation of violence after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new Palestinian intifada and analysts have been anxiously watching what happens next.

Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group both renewed that call on Saturday.

US isolated

Trump's decision drew lavish praise from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu but has sparked a worldwide diplomatic backlash

Five European countries on the UN Security Council insisted the new US policy was not consistent with past resolutions, including one that declares East Jerusalem to be Israeli-occupied.

The meeting was requested by eight of the 15 members of the council but was largely symbolic as no vote on a resolution was planned because the US wields veto power.

Trump said his defiant move - making good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge - marked the start of a "new approach" to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But many analysts question how a balanced agreement can be reached by granting such a major Israeli demand before negotiations have even started.

Israel has long claimed all of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians see the annexed eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law and its status is the most sensitive issue in the decades-long conflict.