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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Jordan tells Pence US must 'rebuild trust' after Jerusalem decision

The king, a US ally, said that the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a two-state solution, reiterating that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state

King Abdullah of Jordan (R) meets with US vice president Mike Pence at the Royal Palace, Amman, Jordan, on January 21, 2018. Amel Pain / EPA
King Abdullah of Jordan (R) meets with US vice president Mike Pence at the Royal Palace, Amman, Jordan, on January 21, 2018. Amel Pain / EPA

King Abdullah of Jordan appealed to US vice president Mike Pence on Sunday to “rebuild trust and confidence” after president Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The king, a US ally, said that the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a two-state solution, reiterating that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

King Abdullah said in Amman that he had “candid and frank” discussions with Mr Pence, who was in Egypt on Saturday and will be in Israel on Monday for talks with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian officials have repeatedly said that America can no longer play a role in the Middle East peace process after its Jerusalem decision, which broke long-standing US foreign policy and infuriated the Arab world.

King Abdullah said America’s announcement on Jerusalem was not part of a “comprehensive settlement” of the peace process, adding that the US now has a “major challenge to overcome”.

"For us, Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians, as it is to Jews. It is key to peace in the region and key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of our root causes of radicalisation," he said.

"Today we have a major challenge to overcome, especially with some of the rising frustrations.”

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Can Mike Pence relaunch the Middle East peace process?

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He described Mr Pence’s visit as a mission "to rebuild trust and confidence" in getting to a two-state solution, in which a state of Palestine would be established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

Another cause of concern for Jordan is the Trump administration's decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jordan vehemently opposes such a move.

Mr Pence, in turn, said that his country was “committed to restarting the peace process” and sees Amman as a central player.

The vice president also said that "the United States of America remains committed, if the parties agree, to a two state solution”.

Mr Pence told King Abdullah that Mr Trump made it clear in his announcement on Jerusalem "that we are committed to continue to respect Jordan's role as the custodian of holy sites, that we take no position on boundaries and final status."

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The Middle East sits on shifting hands

Pence promises Egypt full US backing in fight against militants

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Mr Pence told Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi during their meeting in Cairo on Saturday that the US was committed to "preserving the status quo with regard to holy sites in Jerusalem", and that borders and other issues would be negotiated between the parties.

"The United States of America is deeply committed to restarting the peace process in the Middle East," he said before departing for Jordan. He said he would be "delivering that message in Jordan, delivering that message in Israel, as well."

Mr Pence had been scheduled to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in mid-December, but Mr Abbas said he would not meet with Trump administration officials.

Meanwhile, the main Arab party in Israel’s Knesset said it will boycott Mr Pence’s speech to parliament on Monday.

Ayman Odeh said in a tweet that members of his Joint List will boycott the speech.

Mr Odeh called Mr Pence “dangerous” and said he has “messianic vision” that threatens the region.