Pence arrives in Israel on Mideast tour

Preparing for US VP Mike Pence's visit

Preparing for US VP Mike Pence's visit Israel Police

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet Pence.

Noting that Israel will in May mark 70 years since its founding - in a war Palestinians mourn as a catastrophe - Pence switched to Hebrew to recite a Jewish prayer of thanksgiving.

In January, addressing the Israeli parliament, Vice President Mike Pence said the USA would open an embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019. "We couldn't be happier and as somebody who has wanted and prayed and hoped for this for more than 40 years, I see us in the middle of prophecy right now", he said.

Jordan's King Abdullah II is appealing to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to "rebuild trust and confidence" after the Trump administration's recent decision to designate Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Aaron David Miller, a former US envoy to the peace talks, has in the past issued similar warnings about America's credibility via the peace process.

"The United States has no greater friend than Israel".

The site is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the global community. Arab lawmakers staged a protest at the start of his speech and scuffled with security officials before walking out.

Netanyahu lauded the American-Israeli alliance, which he said has "never been stronger". On his part, Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said it would be ideal to launch a peace initiative together with the USA. But all USA presidents before Trump have resisted acting on the law, signing a waiver in the national interest. "There is no contradiction between recognition and the resumption of negotiations". "We will also express our concerns about destabilisation efforts instigated by Iran in the wider region", he said. Indeed, France is said to be determined to press European leaders to take a first concrete step by granting an "association agreement" between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority.

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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".

Martin Konecny, a Middle East expert from Eumep, an NGO, said on the French initiative: "It's a primarily symbolic upgrade and gesture toward recognising [Palestine]".

Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem broke with worldwide consensus on the best way forward in Middle East peace moves, and his freeze on some funding to the Palestinians has angered many in the region and sparked financial uncertainty at the United Nations agency working in the territories.

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius told EUobserver on Monday that the United States remained the EU's main strategic ally despite Trump's move.

"We will follow up in the coming weeks", she said.

ReutersUS Vice President Mike Pence (C) stands next to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a formal reception ceremony at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem January 22, 2018.

The US vice-president visited Israel after state visits to Egypt and Jordan, where he discussed the cooperation following Trump's acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last December.

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