President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has infuriated Palestinians and been favored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and evangelicals in the United States. Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech to the Israeli parliament in Israel
that the embassy would move by the end of 2019, according to TIME.
The vice president arrived in Israel the last half of January for a two-day visit. He said the U.S. recognizes that peace will require compromise but assured the Israeli parliament that the U.S. will never compromise on Israel’s security, reports the News Observer. Pence’s speech did not mention any settlements once, unlike speeches made in Israel by his predecessor Joe Biden or former President Barack Obama, according to The New York Times. Pence’s speech earned him applause and multiple standing ovations from Israeli lawmakers. It was, however, briefly disrupted by some parliament members who held up protest signs in Arabic and English reading “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” before being taken away by ushers, according to The Times of Israel. Pence responded by
saying with a smile: “It is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy.” Pence continued despite the commotion by reiterating Trump’s remarks in December, saying the president made clear the U.S. was not taking any position on final-status issues, such as the boundaries of Jerusalem. He asserted, “if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution.”, reported The Times of Israel.
According to the editorial board at the News Observer, the embassy move is more complicated than Trump makes it to be. The board writes, “Yes, Jerusalem is the holy city to all three Abrahamic faiths, but it is a real and a symbolic center of the ongoing and too often violent dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. For Israel, it’s very simple: Jerusalem is its capital, undivided. For Palestinians, East Jerusalem, with its Arab majority, is supposed to be the capital of a future independent Palestine.” Because the city is at the heat of the dispute, “the United States and other countries have not put their embassies there, knowing that to do so would anger Palestinians, as such a move would say that dividing Jerusalem would be off the table in any peace negotiations,” wrote
the News Observer editorial board.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke ahead of Pence, addressed the parliament both in Hebrew and English, remarking, “It’s fitting that you are the first American vice president to speak at the Knesset in Jerusalem, because no American vice president has had a greater commitment to Israel and its people.”, according to Knesset press release. Netanyahu ended by saying that Israel and the United States “are striving together to achieve a true peace, lasting peace, peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians,” according to BBC.