US Vice President Pence speaks to Israeli Knesset: US embassy to move to Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mike Pence (official portrait)
Image: The White House.

United States Vice President Mike Pence was in Israel on Monday and addressed the Knesset, Israel's highest legislative body. During his speech, Pence promised the US would transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of 2019. He also spoke of US support of Israel, often using biblical references.

"In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope," said Pence. "My country’s very first settlers also saw themselves as pilgrims, sent by Providence, to build a new Promised Land. The songs and stories of the people of Israel were their anthems, and they faithfully taught them to their children, and do to this day. And our founders, as others have said, turned to the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible for direction, guidance, and inspiration."

"Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence said later in the speech. "In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year."

Twelve Israeli Arab and one Jewish member of the Knesset protested Pence on the floor of the legislature. Holding signs such as "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine," they were escorted out by security. Generally, Pence's words were met by applause and some standing ovations.

Pence was to visit the Yad Vashem and the Western Wall on Tuesday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Pence, and Pence had no scheduled meetings with any Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump announced recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.