Egypt Denies Report Backing President Trump on Yerushalayim

Protesters waving a Palestinian flag are met by demonstrators waving an Israeli flag

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Israel next week, as Palestinian protests continue over President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Pence postponed his visit to Israel and Egypt in mid-December because of a Senate vote on Trump's tax overhaul.

In addition to the call with Megahed, three other audio recordings of strikingly similar telephone conversations with the same intelligence agent, Capt. Kholi, were all provided to The New York Times by an intermediary supportive of the Palestinian cause and opposed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

"In some ways, this trip could now become the moment where the Trump administration finally walks away from the notion of a serious peace negotiation and just goes full in with the Israelis", Goldenberg said.

A spokeswoman for Pence indicated "working together to fight terrorism and to improve national security" will be among topics of discussion.

The status of Jerusalem, which is home to Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites, is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who were furious over Trump's move and have declined to meet with Pence.

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Pence's agenda in Israel includes meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, an address to the Knesset and visits to the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. At the time, Abbas's diplomatic adviser, Majdi Khaldi, said Abbas would not meet with Pence "because the USA has crossed red lines" with its decision on Jerusalem.

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit the Mideast from January 20 to 23, the White House said on Monday. Instead, he said, preoccupied by concerns about their own stability, the Arab leaders signalled that - while they may not like the decision - they "will find a way to work with it", and "with a White House that is prepared to break with what had been taboos in American foreign policy".

The status of Jerusalem has always been a central issue in the Israel- Palestinian conflict. Sissi will meet with Pence despite the deep unpopularity of Trump's decision.

A Turkey-based TV station has released audio recordings it said were of an Egyptian intelligence officer asking influential hosts in Egypt to persuade their viewers to accept a USA decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In the aftermath, Arab states have said they will push for global recognition of east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" he reportedly said in all four of the calls.

"I am friends with Ashraf and we talk all the time", the Times reported Megahed as saying in the interview.

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