Palestinian protests continue as Abbas pledges to snub United States vice president's visit

Palestinian protests continue as Abbas pledges to snub United States vice president's visit

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the region and there will be no communication between U.S. and Palestinian officials Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on Saturday.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Abbas's Fatah party, told AFP the same day that Pence was "not welcome in Palestine".

Earlier on Saturday, Mahmoud Abbas, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, and Pope Tawadros of Alexandria II, will refuse to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence later this month, over Washington's policy towards Jerusalem.

Amid indications that Mr Abbas may withdraw from a planned meeting later this month, a White House aide said Mr Pence "still plans to meet with Abbas as scheduled" and "believes it would be counterproductive for him to pull out of the meeting".

The Trump administration says it is still committed to Palestinian-Israeli talks, that Israel's capital would be in Jerusalem under any serious peace plan, and that it has not taken a position on the city's borders.

The Hamas movement declared Friday a "day of rage". Shops were shuttered in Jerusalem's Old City.

Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands more protesters had gathered to express solidarity. Scores more were wounded there and in the West Bank.

However, Palestinian protests on Saturday were less intense than on the previous two days.

"President Abbas will not welcome him because of the statements he made" about Jerusalem.

"It demanded the Palestinian Authority end its continued reliance on negotiations and end security coordination with the occupier".

Trump said his defiant move - making good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge - marked the start of a "new approach" to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel launched fresh air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to rocket fire from the enclave, and the Palestinian Hamas group said two of its gunmen were killed in the bombings.

White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press briefing that the United States does not know of any other countries planning to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the near future. One person was killed in ensuing clashes with Israeli forces and at least 300 were wounded.