TEL AVIV – Vice President Mike Pence asked Egypt and Jordan to reach out to the Palestinians on behalf of the U.S. in an attempt to restore ties following President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, Bloomberg news reported on Sunday.
Pence asked Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah II to tell Palestinian leaders the U.S. is interested in restarting direct talks, the report said, citing a source familiar with the talks.
Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that as a result of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. could no longer be considered an impartial broker of Israeli-Palestinian talks. The PA further snubbed Pence in a scheduled visit to the region.
On Sunday, the Jordanian king urged Pence to “rebuild trust and confidence” in the two-state solution, with eastern Jerusalem serving as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
“Today, we have a major challenge to overcome, especially with some of the rising frustrations,” Abdullah II told Pence after a meeting in Amman.
“Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians, as it is to Jews,” Abdullah said. “It is key to peace in the region. And key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of the root causes of radicalization.”
Pence responded, “President Trump made a historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but as he also made clear in that decision … we continue to respect Jordan’s role as the custodian of holy sites, that we take no position on boundaries and final status — those are subject to negotiation — and as I’ve made clear and the president made clear to the world: the United States of America remains committed if the parties agree to a two-state solution.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Pence to Israel, and praised the vice president as a “great friend of Israel.”
He added that there could be no mediator of the conflict apart from the U.S. and any party that denies this clearly isn’t seeking peace.
“I have a message for [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas: There is no alternative to American leadership in the diplomatic process. Whoever is not ready to talk with the Americans on peace does not want peace,” Netanyahu said.