Palestinian Authority ‘is walking away’ from peace opportunity, White House says


(JTA) — The Palestinian Authority’s refusal to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit to the region is “unfortunate,” a White House official said.

“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,” Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen said in a statement.

“The President has asked Vice President Pence to go to the region to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations,” the statement also said.

Pence reportedly will arrive in Israel on Sunday for a two-day visit where he will speak to the Knesset and light a menorah for Chanukah at the Western Wall. He will then travel to Egypt, where he is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and tour pyramids outside of Cairo.

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Pence also had been scheduled to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, who is now refusing to meet with the vice president during his visit to the region.

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