By Abdul Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence began his visit to Israel on Monday with a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in West Jerusalem.
The visit is the first by a senior U.S. official since President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last month.
Palestinian officials have refused to meet Pence during the visit in protest of Trump’s decision, which has triggered outcry across the Arab and Muslim world and protests in the Palestinian territories that left at least 17 people dead.
On Sunday, Netanyahu described Pence as a great friend of Israel during a meeting with Israeli ambassadors accredited abroad.
Later on Monday, Pence is set to deliver a speech in the Knesset (Israeli parliament), amid a boycott by Arab lawmakers.