Pence’s Visit to Israel Further Strains Fragile Relations

By Brittney Segura
Staff Writer

On January 23, the Washington Post reports that United States Vice President, Mike Pence, concluded his trip to the Middle East in Israel. The purpose for his visit to Israel was to reaffirm President Trump’s commitment to moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Pence’s trip included a visit to Knesset and the Western Wall, where he confirmed that the U.S.’ relationship with Israel will grow.

According to the Washington Post, while Pence’s visit was highly approved by Israelis, the Vice President fostered more tension between Israelis and Palestinians. In Knesset, on January 22, Pence gave a speech where he vowed to resolve the Iran deal, affirming that the U.S. Embassy will be opened by the end of 2019, and claiming to strengthen U.S.- Israeli relations.

Pence’s address to the relationship between the U.S. and Israel were viewed as pro-Israeli, where he made comments that receive backlash from the Palestinian community. According to the Washington Post, Pence stated that he would “right the 70 year wrong” towards Israel. During his speech, Quartz News reports, there were protesters from the Arab members of the Joint List party with signs that said, “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine .”

In addition to the protest during Pence’s speech in Knesset, many other protests occurred in the last couple of months because of Trump’s statement regarding Jerusalem, as detailed by the Guardian. Most of the protest occurred in Palestine, where citizens have refused U.S. aid in any form by institutions organized or sponsored by the U.S.

While these protests initially intended to condemn Trump’s statements, the Guardian reports, Trump has only fueled this action by threatening to revoke Palestinian aid. This is under the proviso that Palestinians are unworthy of U.S. aid if they are unwilling to participate in peace talks.

According to the Washington Post, this threat was later put into action when President Trump decided to withdraw $65 million dollars from the UN Relief and Work agencies. The founder of the Palestine Nation Initiative Political Party, Mustafa Barghouti, commented on president Trump’s decision to withhold aid. Barghouti stated that the aid will not be missed because Palestinian have struggled for their freedom for 70 years and money won’t stop them from obtaining that freedom, as reported by CNN.

While Barghouti’s opinions are in line with the general concession of Palestinians, officials reported to the Washington Post that the hold on aid will take a large toll on Palestine. Much of the money that is given to Palestine is used to aid their five million refugees. It may appear to Palestinians that a hold on U.S. aid will not impact them, however officials say otherwise, since 30 percent of the aid received by Palestine comes from the U.S.

The rapid decisions made in the past couple of months has left the world questioning if any negotiation will be possible after the actions taken by the president. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, commented on CNN news that Trump’s tactics will not work to force impact.

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