Vice President Mike Pence's office confirmed Sunday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was refusing to meet with him following President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Pence Press Secretary Alyssa Farah released a statement, via Twitter, following news reports that Abbas would snub the vice president on his upcoming trip:
— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) December 10, 2017
“It's unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan,” Farah said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization responded to Farah's statement on Monday:
It is unfortunate that the Palestinians have been excluded from determining and shaping their own future and in exercising their right to self-determination. They were deprived of the opportunity “to discuss the future of the region” when the U.S. pre-determined all talks unilaterally and prejudged their outcome.
“The U.S. has destroyed the very foundations and prospects of peace,” the PLO said.
Last week, senior Palestinian officials had begun speaking openly of plans to snub the vice president. “In the name of Fatah I say that we will not welcome Trump's deputy in the Palestinian Territories,” Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in Abbas's Fatah Party, said.
The move to publicly spurn U.S. officials comes after Trump's decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Although the White House did not take a stance on borders or final status of Jerusalem, it was seen by many Palestinian officials as detrimental to any future peace talks.
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat harshly condemned the decision, saying it “destroyed any possibility of a two-state” solution. Abbas said he viewed the decision as the U.S. “withdrawing from the role it has played in the peace process.”
Pence still plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on his upcoming trip to the region.