The United States will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, Vice President Mike Pence told Israel’s lawmakers in an address to the Knesset on Monday.
Pence is on a two-day visit to Israel – his first official visit to West Asia and the first since Trump recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli Capital in December.
“By finally recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, the United States has chosen facts over fiction – and fact is the the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace,” Pence said. Through his decision, Trump had “righted a 70-year-old wrong”, he said.
“In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the US Embassy in Jerusalem, and the Embassy will open before the end of next year.”
On December 6, Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, calling it “a long overdue step to advance the peace process”. Israel called the decision “historic”, even as several countries, as well as the United Nations, the European Union and the Vatican, criticised the move.
Palestine is upset with Trump’s decision, and Pence cancelled a visit to the region in December after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet him in retaliation.
Jerusalem, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, is home to Islam’s third holiest site – the al-Aqsa mosque – and has been at the centre of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians for decades. Israel captured East Jerusalem, which predominantly has Arab households, in 1967 and later annexed it in a move that is not recognised internationally.