Wednesday , August 22 2018

EU for two-state push – US Vice-President Pence ME visit set

AMMAN, Jan 9, (Agencies): Jordan and the European Union on Monday agreed to work together on encouraging a two-state solution to the Palestinian- Israeli crisis according to international law.

The pledge was made amid a conversation between Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, during which both discussed coordinated steps for the goal, read a Jordanian ministry statement. Safadi had briefed his EU counterpart on the results of a ministerial six-nation plus the Arab League taskforce that had discussed the impacts of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Amman-hosted talks, which concluded on Saturday, had underlined rejection of the US decision as it represents a breach of international law and has no legal effect whatsoever, the minister told the EU official.

The Arab taskforce would work together with the international community to recognise Palestinian statehood with a capital of East Jerusalem according to the 1967 borders.

The Jordanian minister also stressed the importance of the EU’s role in breaking the deadlock that has blanketed efforts for comprehensive and permanent peace. Vice-President Mike Pence will travel to Egypt, Jordan and Israel this month after postponing a trip to the Middle East in December following President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the White House announced Monday. Pence’s trip to the Middle East will insert him into a debate over the role of the US 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.

The president last week questioned why the US should make “any of these massive future payments” when the Palestinians are “no longer willing to talk peace.” The White House said Pence will travel to the region Jan 19-23, starting with a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. Pence will also confer with King Abdullah II of Jordan and then hold two days of meetings and events in Israel.

Pence’s agenda in Israel includes meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, an address to the Knesset and visits to the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. The White House said Pence will address the need to combat terrorism and help persecuted religious minorities. Trump, along with United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, have been questioning future aid to the Palestinians as part of the fallout of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and using the aid as leverage until the Palestinians show a willingness to come back to the negotiation table.

Pence postponed his visit to Israel and Egypt in mid-December because of a Senate vote on Trump’s tax overhaul. But Pence’s trip to the Middle East, his first as vice president, will be carefully watched following Trump’s decision on Israel’s capital, which prompted Palestinian leaders to cancel planned meetings with the vice president. Ilan Goldenberg, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said the recent movements by the Trump administration have been “inconsistent with the ‘cooling off period’” cited by the White House.

“In some ways, this trip could now become the moment where the Trump administration finally walks away from the notion of a serious peace negotiation and just goes full in with the Israelis,” Goldenberg said. Alyssa Farah, a Pence spokeswoman, said Pence was traveling to the Middle East at Trump’s direction “to reaffirm our commitment to work with the US’s allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations.” Farah said Pence was “looking forward to meeting with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel to discuss ways to work together to fight terrorism and improve our national security.”

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