During Middle East Trip, Christians And Palestinians Reject Pence

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After Sunday protests, Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli Knesset that President Donald Trump was ready to expedite the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, prompting members of parliament in Palestine to take a stand.

Speaking to the Israeli Knesset, which is the national legislature of Israel, Vice President Mike Pence vowed to advance the United States' plan to open its embassy in Jerusalem, saying that the move will take only one year instead of three. During the speech, Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset were kicked out.

Ahead of Pence’s visit, Palestinians burned photos of the vice president, stepping on them before throwing them inside trash containers in a symbolic move meant to demonstrate their attitude toward President Donald Trump’s administration.

After the president recognized Jerusalem, a disputed territory, as Israel’s official capital, several protests erupted across the Palestinian territories, as well as other corners of the Muslim and Christian world.

The Sunday protest was carried out with the same goal, secretary of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah), Mohammad Al-Masri, said.

Arab Christians are also angered at Pence and the president.

Even as Pence made his way to Egypt before visiting Israel, the Egyptian Coptic pope, the leader of the largest Christian denomination in the region, refused to meet with the vice president.

During Monday’s speech before the Knesset, Israeli members of parliament stood up and applauded as Pence said that the Trump administration “will advance [its] plan and have the embassy opened next year.” As Palestinian members of parliament heckled the comment, security guards kicked them out of the building.

As Pence visited Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech in Brussels asking European Union foreign ministers to recognize Palestine as a state. He was supposed to meet with Pence, but he changed his mind after Trump's announcement.

Abbas said that "the only way to achieve peace with Israel is through internationally led negotiations." Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, responded that the EU is committed to supporting the Palestinian state-building process.

Despite the EU’s vows to commit to supporting Palestine as a state, it’s still difficult to see how this move will help pressure Trump to join EU leaders in pressing Israel to bring an end to its military occupation of the Palestinian territories, especially now that Israel has been able to get the American president to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish State’s capital.

After all, Trump's peace plan involved giving Israel 10 percent of the West Bank, setting the Palestinian capital as a location other than Jerusalem, and allowing Israel to remain in charge of security throughout Palestinian territories. In other words, only Israel would be benefiting from the "ultimate deal," while Palestinians would continue to suffer.

It's clear that even before Trump declared Jersualem was the capital of Israel, this administration's "peace" plan was going to accomplish nothing but to instigate more conflict.

 

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