White House says no contact with Palestinians since Jerusalem recognition
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White House says no contact with Palestinians since Jerusalem recognition

Trump administration official says US aiming to present its peace plan this year, but both sides must be open to talks

US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

Senior Trump administration officials have not spoken with Palestinian leaders since the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, a senior White House official said Tuesday.

The official also said the US is aiming to present its peace plan this year, but both sides needed to be willing to engage in talks, according to a Reuters report.

The official’s comments came as US Vice President Mike Pence visited Israel.

Since US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to engage in American-led peace talks, saying the US is not an honest broker.

He has also refused to meet with senior White House officials, including Pence, and cursed Trump in a speech earlier this month in which he called a peace plan being formulated by the US the “slap of the century.”

Despite the fallout, the US vice president told reporters while in Israel that “the door is open” for the Palestinians to return to talks.

“We understand they’re unhappy” with Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, he told Reuters, “but the president wanted me to convey our willingness and desire to be a part of the peace process going forward.”

He also said that the US has been working with its allies in the region to develop a peace plan. He said the timing of the plan “depends now on when the Palestinians are going to come back to the table.”

Speaking at the Knesset on Monday, Pence said the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital was “in the best interest of peace.”

“By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction,” he said, while emphasizing that Trump is “fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

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