(January 22, 2018 / JNS) In a historic address to the Israeli Knesset on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence pledged that the U.S. would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “before the end of next year.”
“Just last month, President Donald Trump made history. He righted a 70-year wrong, he kept his promise to the American people,” Pence said, referring to Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and promise to relocate the U.S. embassy.
Pence’s pledge came after several days of mixed reports on when the embassy move would take place. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected the embassy relocation would happen “much faster than people think, within a year from today.” But President Trump disputed Netanyahu’s timeline.
“By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios—I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no,” Trump told Reuters.
When the planned embassy move was announced last month, U.S. officials said that it would likely take several years due to the need to find a proper and secure location within Israel’s capital.
Pence—whose speech was interrupted by Israeli Arab lawmakers protesting the recognition of Jerusalem—said that Trump is “fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and reiterated that “if both sides agree, the United States will support a two-state solution.”
“Today, we strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue,” declared Pence.
Pence also spoke about the Iran nuclear deal, calling the agreement a “disaster” that only delays Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and saying the Trump administration will no longer certify Iranian compliance with the deal. The U.S. issued its first refusal to certify the accord last October, and faces the same decision every 90 days.
“This is the last time: Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump, the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately,” said Pence, echoing comments made by Trump earlier this month that America was giving the nuclear pact “a last chance” by waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions.