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US to move Jerusalem embassy before end of 2019, Mike Pence says

Amid Israeli Arab protests, vice president tells Knesset that peace talks with the Palestinians must resume

    US Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Knesset on Monday
    US Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Knesset on Monday (Picture: Flash90)

    The United States will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within two years, Vice President Mike Pence promised the Knesset on Monday.

    In a speech that was briefly interrupted when Israeli Arab MKs staged a protest, Mr Pence called for a swift resumption of peace talks.

    Palestinians and Arabs have been angered by President Donald Trump’s decision late last year to move the embassy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    Until Mr Trump’s move the international consensus had been to consider Jerusalem’s status as undecided, pending an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

    “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,” Mr Pence said.

    “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.”

    Israeli Arab MKs were escorted out of the Knesset after staging a protest during Mike Pence's speech
    Israeli Arab MKs were escorted out of the Knesset after staging a protest during Mike Pence's speech (Picture: Flash90)

    Members of the Joint List coalition of Arab parties began shouting and holding up protest signs as Mr Pence began to speak.

    They were swiftly moved out of the chamber by ushers.

    Mr Pence responded to the disruption by remarking: “It is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy.”

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has refused to meet Mr Pence, was in Brussels on Monday in an attempt to persuade European foreign ministers to recognise a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

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