Vice President Pence called the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to snub a meeting with him “unfortunate,” and that he still plans to visit the region.
The statement from Pence’s press secretary on Sunday comes ahead of a planned trip to Israel and Egypt later this month. It also comes a few days after President Trump decided to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which angered Palestinians.
Abbas said Saturday he would cancel a planned Dec. 19 meeting with Pence in retaliation for the embassy move. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their capital and the move sparked major protests and riots in response to the decision.
“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,” Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.
Pence will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the trip.