A two-state solution is the only possible answer to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has told US Vice President Mike Pence in a meeting in Amman.
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“For us, Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews,” said King Abdullah II, calling for a two-state solution along 1967 lines that would name “East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state” that exists “side by side with a secure, recognised Israel.
“It [Jerusalem] is key to peace in the region, and key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of the root causes of radicalisation.”
King Abdullah II, a staunch US ally, also said the decision by Washington to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.
For his part, Pence acknowledged the king’s role as the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem.
He also defended US President Donald Trump‘s Jerusalem decision, but stated that Washington still supports a two-state solution “if the parties agree” to it.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said, however, that for Palestinians, Pence’s message about the two-state solution “is entirely overshadowed” by the US Jerusalem decision.
Trump’s move on December 6 sparked anger across Palestine and the wider Arab and Muslim world.
Palestinians also made clear that they did not wish to meet Pence during his trip to the Middle East, reiterating that the US could no longer be involved in the peace process following Trump’s decision.
For many Palestinians, Pence himself is part of the problem.
The shift in US policy with which he was closely associated was welcomed by his evangelical Christian base, many of whom believe the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is a precursor to Jesus’ second coming.
“Pence has an agenda that is extremist, fundamentalist, literalist – [a] Christian absolutist ideology which goes against all the beliefs and commitments of the Arab and Palestinian Christians in particular, and they feel that they have been betrayed by somebody who has been dealing them a tremendous injustice using religion as a justification,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
In Cairo, Pence met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to discuss bilateral ties between the two countries.
The two leaders also spoke about ways to eliminate what Sisi called the “disease and cancer of terrorism”.
Egypt and Jordan are key allies to the US and the only two Arab countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel.
After Jordan, Pence is heading to Israel, where he is expected to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and address the Knesset.