Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat issued a furious response to the speech delivered by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Monday afternoon to the Israeli Knesset, calling the address a “gift to extremists.”
Erekat served who for years as the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority at endless, moribund final status talks with Israel. He said Pence’s speech “has proven that the U.S. administration is part of the problem, rather than the solution.”
In his remarks, Pence reaffirmed the historic decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and notified Israeli lawmakers from the podium that the U.S. Embassy would relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of next year.
President Trump said in remarks earlier this month that the move “takes the question of Jerusalem off the table” after repeated refusals to engage in peace negotiations with Israel by the Palestinian Authority despite a year’s effort by the Trump administration.
The Palestinian Authority continues to insist that Israeli hand over nearly half of its capital and withdraw from any territory won in the 1967 Six Day War. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas claimed in recent remarks during a speech abroad that PA citizens are “the original Canaanites” who existed in Jerusalem “before the Jews,” and that Jerusalem is the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine.”