U.S. President Donald Trump is “actively considering” ways to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday.
Pence’s comments were received with great enthusiasm at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations vote that led to the creation of the State of Israel.
As a presidential candidate, Trump had repeatedly promised to move the embassy, a decision that would be welcomed by Israel but fiercely opposed by the Palestinians.
In June, Trump backed off the pledge as his Mideast envoy sought to reinvigorate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House said at the time that the president was only delaying — not abandoning — his campaign pledge to relocate the embassy.
The move would violate a longstanding U.S. policy, which maintains that Jerusalem should remain on neutral ground until the city’s status is determined during peace talks. Such a move is likely to ignite violence as Palestinians would view it as a threat to their hopes of having a part of Jerusalem as their future capital.
But, the Trump administration is facing a deadline within days on whether to move the embassy, and Pence's comments suggest the administration may be closer to agreeing to a key Israeli wish.
“While, for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said.
The vice president is traveling to Israel next month and noted that he would deliver an address at the Knesset and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial during his visit.