VP Pence Set for Middle East Tour, After Postponement Last Month

Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiroi24NEWS

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri slammed the veracity of a New York Times report claiming Cairo instructed top officials to promote public acceptance of U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In his December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as merely based on reality.

Pence will also confer with King Abdullah II of Jordan and then hold two days of meetings and events in Israel.

"At President Trump's direction, the vice president is travelling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the US's allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations", said Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Pence.

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

Palestinian officials have pressured local church leaders to reject Pence's visit and follow the example of the Egyptian Coptic Church whose pope has refused to meet the U.S. vice president due to the decision.

The statement also said that Pence would discuss the need to "assist persecuted religious minorities" during his trip.

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Pence's trip to the Middle East will insert him into a debate over the role of the U.S.in any future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and follows Trump's apparent threats to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Pence is not expected to meet with the Palestinians, who have sought to make Israel-annexed east Jerusalem their capital.

When making his announcement, Trump added the caveat that Jerusalem's status would be determined in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Sissi will meet with Pence despite the deep unpopularity of Trump's decision.

"I am friends with Ashraf and we talk all the time", the Times reported Megahed as saying in the interview.

Kholi allegedly told the news hosts, "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" according to the Times report.

However, in the recordings released by Mekameleen, el-Kholi can be heard telling one of the hosts that he was calling to lay out "the stance of Egypt's national security apparatus and what it stands to benefit from in this matter of announcing Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel". He told the hosts that instead of condemning the decision, they should persuade their viewers to accept it. Palestinians, he suggested, should content themselves with the dreary West Bank town that now houses the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah.

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