The Trump administration just doubled down on its Jerusalem decision. A couple of hours ago, in a historic moment that could set a turning point in the Middle East conflict, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Israel’s Knesset that the American embassy will open in Jerusalem next year. Of course, this was a very delicate moment considering the intense conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
Believe it or not, some Arab-Israeli politicians had to be ejected from the parliament at the start of the vice president’s speech for heckling. In fact, the tension was quite intense after he showed America’s stance in favor of Israel by saying that “your cause is our cause, your values are our values, your fight is our fight”.
In an historic address to the Israeli parliament today, the vice president defended the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to this city. As everyone knows, both decisions have been strongly criticized by the Palestinian faction and their allies in the region.
According to Vice President Pence, the Trump administration will advance its plan in the coming weeks. In addition, he said that the U.S. embassy will open by the end of 2019, which promises to be a historic day. Naturally, this represents an unexpected action from the Trump administration. After all, even when the embassy move was guaranteed, most analysts thought this would be done in three years.
Unsurprisingly, the vice president was briefly interrupted by Arab MPs who held up banners saying that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. Far from not knowing what to do, Vice President Pence responded brilliantly by smiling and saying that it was “deeply humbling” to be standing before such an extraordinary democracy.
Naturally, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided not to meet with the U.S. vice president. In addition to represent a clear sign of discontent with the Jerusalem decision, Abbas took this time to travel to Brussels in order to urge the European Union (EU) to recognize a Palestinian state.
According to those who disagree with this action, the vice president was defending President Donald Trump’s decision to break with international consensus address to the Israeli parliament. Vice President Pence pointed out it had “righted a 70-year wrong.”
In addition, he confirmed that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and announced that the Trump administration will advance its plans to open the American embassy in this city in the weeks ahead. Then, the vice president confirmed that the United States Embassy “will open before the end of next year.”
One of the most interesting remarks made by the vice president was that the United had chosen “fact over fiction” by finally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In addition, he pointed out that fact represents the only meaningful foundation for “a just and lasting peace.”
Back in December, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assured the media that moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem wasn’t going to happen right away. As a matter of fact, he even said that this would be made “probably no earlier than three years out”.
According to several reports, he said that only because the state department still needed to acquire a site, architects, commission, gain approval, and then build the compound. However, a senior U.S. official told the New York Times last week that the embassy move could actually happen next year. The reason? Because diplomats had settled on a plan to turn an existing consular building in West Jerusalem.
While the Palestinian leaders refused to meet Vice President Pence on this trip, he also had some words for this faction. The vice president said that the United States remains fully committed to achieving a peace deal that could end the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
In addition, the vice president called the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table in order to find the most peaceful solution for both parties. Also, he said that “peace can only come through dialogue.”
BREAKING: U.S. Vice President Pence announces that the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem next year.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) January 22, 2018
A couple of hours before the address of Vice President Pence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country and the United States were fighting to together achieve the strongest peace in the region.
Naturally, both the U.S. and Israel want President Abbas back to the table, considering he’s the most significant element of the Palestinian faction. Recently, Abbas accused President Trump of delivering the “slap of the century” by announcing the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing this city as the capital of Israel. In addition, Abbas said that he will no longer accept the United States as a mediator in this conflict.
When he met EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Abbas made no comment on the speech delivered by Vice President Mike Pence. However, he stressed that the Palestinian faction remained keen on continuing with the negotiations.