Pence to visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel in January

Pence to visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel in January

In his December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as merely based on reality.

In addition to the call with Megahed, three other audio recordings of strikingly similar telephone conversations with the same intelligence agent, Capt. Kholi, were all provided to The New York Times by an intermediary supportive of the Palestinian cause and opposed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

"At President Trump's direction, the Vice President is traveling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the U.S.'s allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations", Pence's press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement Monday morning.

"There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine", Abbas's diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khaldi said on Saturday.

The White House said Pence will travel to the region January 19-23, starting with a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The White House said Pence will address the need to combat terrorism and help persecuted religious minorities. Palestinians are poised to continue their protests until Trump withdraws his decision.

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He will also hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

So did Saudi Arabia, even though Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman privately tried to convince Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to accept a Palestinian state without a capital in Jerusalem - a fact confirmed to The New York Times by Arab, European and Palestinian Authority officials who quoted Abbas.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal capital, while Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally. "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" he reportedly said in all four of the calls.

"I was just calling to tell you what our public stance is, so if you go on TV or speak in an interview, I am telling you what is the stance of Egypt's national security apparatus and what it stands to benefit from in this matter of announcing Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, OK?"

Jerusalem's status has always been one of the main obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Jordan has a large population of Palestinian origin, and the king serves as guardian of the third holiest site of Islam, located in east Jerusalem.

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