Palestinians say they will not meet with Pence during visit: report

Palestinians say they will not meet with Pence during visit: report
© Greg Nash

Palestinian officials reportedly say they will not meet with Vice President Pence when he travels to the region later this month, following the Trump administration's change in policy toward Jerusalem.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian official, told The Associated Press his group "will not receive him in the Palestinian territories." He also called on Arab leaders to decline to meet with Pence.

The Palestinians' refusal to meet with the vice president comes a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — a controversial decision that drew immediate criticism from political leaders in the Middle East and beyond.


A spokesperson for the vice president did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

Pence is set to travel to Israel from Dec. 17 to 19, where he is expected to address the country's parliament. He would be the first senior U.S. official to do so since former President George W. Bush in 2008. 

He is also expected to visit Bethlehem in the West Bank. It is not clear what Rajoub's comments mean for Pence's visit to the Palestinian territories.

The decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital could complicate future peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Trump has vowed to broker an agreement between the two sides, which he has called the "ultimate deal."

Israel has long considered Jerusalem its capital, though the international community has declined for decades to recognize the city as such. The U.S. Embassy, like those of other countries, is currently in Tel Aviv.

In making his announcement on Wednesday, Trump also said that he would direct the State Department to begin preparations for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, though he signed a national security waiver keeping the facility in Tel Aviv for the time being.

Holy sites for Muslims, Christians and Jews are in Jerusalem, and Palestinians have long expressed a desire to establish the capital of a future state in the city.