US VP Mike Pence visits East Jerusalem amidst capital controversy | News | DW | 23.01.2018
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US VP Mike Pence visits East Jerusalem amidst capital controversy

The vice president said it was a "great honor" to visit the holy site. Pence has said that the contentious move of the US embassy to Jerusalem will come in 2019.

US Vice President Mike Pence closed a visit to Israel with a stop at Jerusalem's Western Wall on Tuesday, the last remnants of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. 

Wearing a black skullcap, Pence stuck a written prayer inside a crack in the wall.

"It is my great honor to pray here at this sacred place. God bless the Jewish people and God bless the state of Israel always," Pence wrote in the guest book.

The visit to the holy site was interpreted by many Israelis as further proof of controversial US support for Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.

East Jerusalem, where the Western Wall lies, was occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move condemned by the international community. Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the likely capital of their future state.

In May, President Donald Trump became the first sitting US leader to visit the Western Wall.

Embassy to move in 2019

The decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital led to violent clashes and broke with decades of global consensus that such a move would endanger the peace process and prevent a two-state solution.

During his trip, Pence told Reuters news agency that the timing of Trump's peace plan (which has been kept under wraps and on which advisers have reportedly been working on for some time) "depends on the Palestinians."

"The White House has been working with our partners in the region to see if we can develop a framework for peace," the Vice President said. "It all just depends now on when the Palestinians are going to come back to the table."

"We want them to know the door is open," he said.

Pence said that Washington would soon release plans for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.

es/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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