Pope Tawadros II, leader Egypt's Coptic Church, has cancelled a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Cairo later this month, in protest of the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump's decision "did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people," the church said in a statement. "The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church declines to receive American Vice President Mike Pence," it said, adding it would pray for "wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East." The decision comes a day after Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar University, also declined to meet Pence.
The Palestinian foreign ministry likewise stated that President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with Pence during his visit to the region. However, apparently emboldened by Trump’s annoucement, Israeli housing Minister Yoav Galant announced a plan to build 14,000 new settlement units in Jerusalem, some 6,000 of them in occupied East Jerusalem. (Middle Eeat Monitor, Dec. 10; AFP, New Straits Times, Dec. 9; Times of Isreal, Dec. 7)