Netanyahu, Pence laud recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

US Vice President Mike Pence said the US administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would aid peace talks and expressed hope the sides were at a “new dawn” of negotiations Monday, as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a trip overshadowed by Ramallah’s refusal to regard the US as a peace broker.

Pence said it was his “great honor … to be in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” in a meeting with Netanyahu Monday, a day after he landed in the country.

The trip by Pence is the first by a major figure from the US since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a December 6 address. While Israel has feted Pence for the move, the Palestinians reacted furiously and are refusing to meet with the vice president, who arrived in the city Sunday night.

Pence repeated the administration stance that Trump’s “historic” declaration “would create an opportunity to move on, in good faith negotiations, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on issues that can be discussed and President Trump truly believes can be resolved.”

“I’m hopeful that we’re at the dawn of a new era of renewed discussions to achieve a peaceful resolutions to the decades-long conflict that has affected this region,” he said.

Netanyahu told Pence he had never before been able to join a foreign leader in calling the city the capital.

“This is the first time that I’m standing when both leaders can say those three words, ‘Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,’” Netanyahu said according to a statement from his office.

“I want to thank President [Donald] Trump and you for that historic statement, which I know you supported and championed,” Netanyahu added. “I look forward to discussing with you, as we’ve just begun, how to further strengthen our remarkable alliance—it’s never been stronger—and how to advance peace and security in our region, which is our common aim.”

He called Pence his “dear friend.”

Pence was welcomed to Jerusalem Monday morning like a head of state as he kicked off a two-day visit to the Jewish state.

Later on Monday, Pence was scheduled to address the Knesset in what was being billed as a “historic” speech.

Read More: Times of Israel