Palestinians To Snub Pence After Jerusalem Decision

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A Palestinian official has stated that Palestinian authorities will not meet with Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the Middle East in late December.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump announced on Dec. 7 that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to The Associated Press.

The Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, said of Pence: "We will not receive him in the Palestinian territories."

Pence is expected to visit Israel and the West Bank city of Bethlehem. It remains unclear what impact Rajoub's comments will have on the West Bank portion of Pence's trip.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital city. The city is home to a number of important religious sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Palestinian Charge d'Affaires at the United Nations Feda Abdelhady-Nasser appealed on Dec. 7 for the UN Security Council to take action to reverse Trump's decision, saying that the body needed to send "a clear message opposing this unilateral and provocative decision."

The Security Council confirmed it would hold an emergency meeting on the question of Jerusalem on Dec. 8. Eight of the council's 15 members, including France and the United Kingdom, called for the meeting.

Abdelhady-Nasser warned that failure to take into account "these legal, political and religious dimensions of the question of Jerusalem can only aggravate already heightened tensions." She further argued that Trump's move would bring about an "exacerbation of religious sensitivities that risk transforming this solvable political-territorial conflict into a never-ending religious war, which will only be exploited by religious extremists, fueling radicalism and strife in the region and beyond."

Also on Dec. 8, Palestinians protesting Trump's decision fought with Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military confirmed it had struck targets in the Gaza Strip after projectiles were fired towards Israel.

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Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas, appealed for a new Palestinian uprising.

"Trump will regret this decision," he said, according to The New York Times.

In Amman, Jordan's capital, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the country's U.S. Embassy, chanting "America is the head of the snake" and demanding that the embassy be shut down.

However, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson maintained that Washington is still committed to bringing about a peaceful solution in the Middle East.

"All of Israel's government offices are largely in Jerusalem already, so the U.S. is just recognizing the reality of that," Tillerson added.

The Trump administration's stance was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said it was "about time" for other countries to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Sources: The Associated Press, The New York Times / Featured Image: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Leslie Emory/whitehouse.gov via Wikimedia Commons, U.S. Department of State/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

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