The US Embassy in Israel will relocate to Jerusalem next year, Vice President Mike Pence has said. It comes less than two months after Donald Trump formally recognized the city as the capital of Israel.
Pence’s remark was made during a visit to Jerusalem on Monday, which is part of his official visit to the Middle East.
“In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the US embassy in Jerusalem – and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year,” he said in a speech to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, as quoted by Reuters.
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital – and, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to begin initial preparations to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he added, declining to give an exact date of when the embassy would open.
It comes after US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in early December, prompting protests in the West Bank and around the world.
Trump’s move was also slammed by the US’ biggest allies at an emergency UN Security Council meeting following the decision. Back then, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft noted the UK “disagrees” with the move, while France said it “regrets” the decision.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also stated that Berlin “does not support” the decision, while EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the European Union would continue to recognize the “international consensus” on Jerusalem.
After a visit to Jordan as part of his Middle East trip, Pence said that he and King Abdullah II had “agreed to disagree” over the impact of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jordan’s monarch is insistent that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Days after Trump's decision, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that any move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital would be "counter-productive."
“Such steps are destabilizing, and don’t help to resolve the situation, but instead provoke conflict,” Putin said.
Although Pence is being welcomed by Israel, Egypt and Jordan on his tour, the Palestinian Authority shunned the vice president ahead of a scheduled visit in December. “In the name of Fatah I say that we will not welcome Trump's deputy in the Palestinian Territories. He asked to meet [Mahmoud Abbas] on the 19th of this month in Bethlehem, such a meeting will not take place,” Jibril Rajou, secretary-general of the Palestinian Fatah Party, said following Trump's decision.