Netanyahu: US must mediate between Palestine and Israel


Meanwhile, the main Arab party in the Israeli Parliament said it will boycott Mr. Pence's speech, though it wasn't immediately clear whether they will walk out on him or skip the session.

A senior White House official said top negotiators for the Trump administration, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and the president's son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special representative for global negotiations, had not spoken to Palestinian leaders since just before Trump's December 6 announcement.

Pence also said the United States will stand with Israel against Iran, calling Tehran's government the "leading state sponsor of terror", and urging changes to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Of the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he said, "The United States has chosen fact over fiction".

Trump's Jerusalem move angered the Palestinians, sparked protests in the Middle East and raised concern among Western countries that it could further destabilize the region. Palestinian politicians said the US could no longer be an honest broker in talks with Israelis.

The Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"The one, who does not want to discuss peace with the United States side, does not want peace", Netanyahu said at the meeting with Israeli ambassadors.

Netanyahu, bolstered by the unstinting support of the Trump administration, says there is no substitute for USA leadership.

The vice president said "the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper".

Pence insisted Trump's approach would ultimately provide new momentum to peace talks.

Meanwhile, Pence also defended an ad from the Trump campaign that accuses Democrats for being complicit when there is a murder at the hands of an illegal immigrant, and said he does not believe the strong language will hurt matters moving forward.

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Mr Pence made the announcement in a speech to the Israeli Parliament.

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv personally invited leaders of the West Bank settler movement to attend the speech. It was annexed by Israel in 1967, but the move was not recognized by the worldwide community. It was to recognize the reality of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel both historically and since the founding of the state. "He saw nothing of Palestinian Jerusalem".

Abbas said the Palestinians were still "keen on continuing on the way of negotiations" and committed to "fighting terrorism, violence and extremism locally, regionally and internationally".

In Brussels, Abbas repeated his call for East Jerusalem as capital as he urged the European Union member nations to recognize a state of Palestine immediately, arguing that this would not disrupt negotiations with Israel on a peace settlement for the region. Abbas was expected to tell the bloc to take the step in reaction to Trump's Jerusalem decision.

Both Jewish officials accompanied U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during their visit to the Kotel a year ago.

The Palestinians seek the eastern part of Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle ast war, as capital of a future state, and see Trump's declaration as proof of Washington's bias. Muslims revere the mount as the Haram Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Using verses from the Old Testament, Pence spoke to Israeli lawmakers in the Knesset.

Rivlin called Pence a "mensch" and applauded Trump recognition of Jerusalem as the country's capital.

Pence reiterated throughout his travels that the US would accept a two-state solution - if both parties agreed - and would respect the status quo with regard to holy sites and make no determination on final status with regard to boundaries.

It had proven that the U.S. was "part of the problem rather than the solution", he added.