Jordan's king urges Pence to rebuild trust in Middle East

Pence kicks off Israel visit with Netanyahu meeting

His comments from Brussels on Monday came on the same day as Mike Pence, the USA vice president, told Israel's parliament that the United States would move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.

Pence, a vocal supporter of the Jewish state, spoke at the Israeli legislature on Monday afternoon - the first time a senior USA official has addressed the body since President George W. Bush marked the 60th anniversary of Israel's establishment with a Knesset speech in 2008.

When President Trump last month appeared before cameras and announced the USA was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and beginning to prepare for a new embassy in the city, Pence stood behind Trump - in more ways than one.

"At the beginning of Pence's speech, the members of the Joint List stood and began to leave, waving a political sign, while exercising their legitimate right to protest", he said in a statement afterwards.

The dramatic policy shift is seen as a betrayal by the Palestinians, who claim Jerusalem's Israeli-annexed eastern sector as a capital and now reject USA mediation in any future efforts to resolve their long-running conflict with Israel.

Vice President Pence is the highest-level US official to visit Israel since President Donald Trump's trip to the region last May, and the first American vice president to address the legislature.

Mr Abbas is due to meet European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday while Mr Pence is in Israel, and is expected to ask them to officially recognise the state of Palestine as a way to respond to Mr Trump's announcement.

Netanyahu has called the boycott a disgrace.

Noting that Israel will in May mark 70 years since its founding - in a war Palestinians mourn as a catastrophe - Pence switched to Hebrew to recite a Jewish prayer of thanksgiving.

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At his side, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reaffirmed the bloc's commitment to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestine, saying it is the "only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties".

During his meeting with Pence in Amman, King Abdullah of Jordan denounced the move and called on the restore "trust and confidence" in the possibility of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace - with a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Pence was in Israel on Monday.

In a controversial move that formally recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the US Vice President said that efforts will be accelerated to move the embassy to the new location.

Palestine reopened its embassy in Kuwait in 2013, 22 years after it was shut down.

Pence is set to deliver a speech to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, later in the day.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Pence for standing up for the "truth" and supporting Israel at the United Nations.

In his speech to the Parliament, Mr. Pence spoke in glowing terms of the long alliance between the United States and Israel, framing it as part of an epic battle. A devout evangelical Christian, Pence was barred by the Palestinian Authority from visiting Bethlehem, while senior Christian clerics in Egypt - the first stop on Pence's trip - canceled some long-planned events.

They have said they will reject any peace plan the Trump administration presents. Each country, of course, will decide on its own how far to go toward recognizing a true Palestinian state or simply encouraging negotiations on a two-state solution. 'Whoever is not ready to talk with the Americans about peace - does not want peace, ' he said Sunday at a meeting of ambassadors in Jerusalem.

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working for months with a small team to develop a new U.S. proposal to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but no details or even news of progress have emerged.

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