JERUSALEM – The Vice President of United States, Mike Pence, concluded on Tuesday the final Israeli leg of his Middle East tour with a brief visit to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, amid protests and a general strike staged in the West Bank.
Pence ended his official visit to Egypt, Jordan and Israel in Jerusalem, while Palestinians in the occupied West Bank staged a general strike and street protests against his confirmation that the US is to move its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.
“A privilege to pray at the Western Wall,” Pence wrote on Twitter. “Our faith has been renewed – our faith in God, but also our faith in the people of Israel & their commitment to freedom, security & peace.”
Pence also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem, while in the West Bank Palestinian youths threw stones and clashed with Israeli security forces in the city of Hebron, as documented by an epa photographer on the ground.
The US’ recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Palestinians considering the eastern part to be the capital of their future state, caused mass popular protest, including a widely-observed general strike on Tuesday.
However, Palestinians in Jerusalem were skeptical of the strike’s efficiency within the city itself, including Aram Shuq, a Jerusalem store-owner and member of the Palestinian Arab minority living within Israel’s 1967 borders.
“A strike does not change anything. This is just a political issue and people are suffering and have a lot of problems, but the strike is useful in the West Bank, not in Jerusalem,” said Shuq, whose store is located next to Damascus Gate, one of the main entrances to the Old City.
On the West Bank side of Israel’s eight-meter-high (26 feet) concrete separation wall, shops were closed and transport service was limited.
However, schools were kept open at the request of the Palestinian ministry of education, but with empty classrooms due to the lack of transportation.
Different Palestinian factions have called for continuing protests, which began on Monday in some West Bank cities and saw protesters burn photographs of Pence.