Mahmoud Abbas to ask European Union to recognise Palestinian state: minister

Jerusalem’s status Mahmoud Abbas calls on Europe to recognize the State of Palestine quickly

Jerusalem’s status Mahmoud Abbas calls on Europe to recognize the State of Palestine quickly

"In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - and the embassy will open next year", he said on Monday.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shake hands with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.

In an interview with AFP on Sunday in Brussels, Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki said the European Union recognising the state of Palestine would be "a way to respond" to US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

While various parts of Pence's speech were applauded by Israel's right-wing, left-wing, or both, the speech also saw protests by Arab Israeli members of Knesset, who appeared to be forcefully removed.

"Thank you for the warm hospitality, Prime Minister, and it is my great honor on behalf of the President of the United States to be in Israel's capital, Jerusalem", Pence said.

It was the highest-ranking visit by a United States official to the region since Trump's Jerusalem declaration and gave Pence and Netanyahu an opportunity to highlight their own warm relationship for a conservative Christian American community that serves as a power base for the U.S. administration.

Ms Mogherini said "the only pragmatic, realistic solution for Jerusalem has to come through direct negotiations" and called on all those involved in the peace process to "speak wisely and consistently with a sense of responsibility". She played down the timing of the vice president's visit to Israel when Abbas was in Brussels, saying it was a coincidence.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided" capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war - as the capital of a future state.

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US President Donald Trump's Jerusalem announcement on December 6 drew widespread global condemnation and prompted deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Littlejohn said her denomination works with Palestinian Christians and that she belongs to a grass-roots group engaged in peace efforts.

His statement was hailed by Israel but angered the Palestinians, with whom Pence has no meetings during his visit, and raised tensions in the region. The decision led to widespread protests in which 30 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces, Efe news reported.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is refusing to meet Pence because of the declaration, making his visit a rare one by a high-ranking United States official not to include talks with the Palestinians. A devout evangelical Christian, Pence was barred by the Palestinian Authority from visiting Bethlehem, while senior Christian clerics in Egypt - the first stop on Pence's trip - canceled some long-planned events.

Pence said the American administration urged the Palestinians to return to negotiations. Many members of his right-wing coalition reject a two-state solution.

Abbas will meet European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the bloc's 28 foreign ministers on Monday on the sidelines of their monthly meeting, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a similar visit last month.

Pence met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday and held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday before arriving in Israel. "Whoever is not ready to talk with the Americans about peace - does not want peace", he said at a meeting of ambassadors in Jerusalem.

Israel's government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country, although that is not recognized internationally. "But as President Trump made clear, this is the last time", he said, adding that the USA was working on other ways to curb Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program.

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