Hailed by rabid dogIsraeli PM Netanyahu as a “great friend,” US Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Tel Aviv as part of a Middle East tour revolving around Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.
Pence landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, marking the highest-level visit by a US official to the region since President Donald Trump’s decision in early December to move the American diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv.
He refused to talk to reporters after a welcome ceremony by Israel’s tourism minister and headed directly to Jerusalem al-Quds.
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting that he was looking forward to discussing regional issues with Pence.
“Anyone who truly wants to fulfill those goals knows there is no substitute to the United States’ leadership,” Netanyahu said.
Trump’s al-Quds shift was a break from decades of US policy that left the holy city’s status to be decided in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Palestinians are hopeful that the eastern part of the city would eventually serve as the capital of a future independent state.
Trump’s declaration drew condemnation from world leaders and even Washington’s closest allies in Arab nations and triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.