"Trump is actively considering moving U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem": VP Pence
NEW YORK: US Vice President Pence said Tuesday the Trump administration is "actively considering" moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a core promise of President Donald Trump during his election campaign.
"President (Donald) Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence said during a speech in New York.
The vice president spoke at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations vote that led to the creation of the state of Israel.
The Republican president's move could stir tensions in the region as Palestinians consider the city as their future capital.
The United Nations declined to comment, saying the world body had made our position clear in the past. "I'm not going to speculate on what may happen," UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to a question at the regular noon briefing.
Jerusalem remains disputed territory and most U.N. states, including the U.S., do not recognize Israel's claim on east Jerusalem, which dates back to the 1967 War-- this is why foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv. The PLO claims sovereignty over east Jerusalem, while Israel claims sovereignty over the entire city.
The UN has said that Jerusalem remained a final status issue that must be decided and negotiated between the two sides. But Pence vowed that "the days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over," stressing the U.S. will stand up for the Jewish state "because her cause is our cause, her values are our values and her fight is our fight."
During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Despite his pledge, Trump has not yet moved the embassy.
The president signed a waiver in June to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, saying he will eventually move the embassy but wants to keep alive the possibility of peace talks.
Trump must decide next month whether he will sign the waiver again. Pence vowed during a speech in June that Trump would eventually move the embassy.
The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act requires the American embassy to move to Jerusalem, but every president since then has signed a six-month waiver delaying the decision. Pence was met with applause when he said the Jewish people have the right "to be the masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state."
He said that with regard to Israel, the United Nations had become "forum for invective in the form of anti-Semitism and hatred.But with the leadership of our president and the efforts of our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, the days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over."
The vice president added that the Trump administration is also committed to ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
"In recent months we've made valuable achievements toward achieving that and while compromise will be necessary, you can be assured that Donald Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel," he said.
Pence said he will visit Israel with his family next month and address the Knesset, the national legislature.