Tuesday 25 September 2018

United States' embassy in Jerusalem to open next year, says Pence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauds US Vice President Mike Pence ahead of his address to the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauds US Vice President Mike Pence ahead of his address to the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Raf Sanchez

The US embassy in Jerusalem will be open by the end of 2019, Mike Pence said yesterday as he made the first visit to Jerusalem by a senior American leader since Donald Trump recognised it as Israel's capital.

The US had previously said it would take up to four years to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but in a speech to the Israeli parliament Mr Pence, the US vice president, said that timetable had been sped up.

"That United States embassy will open before the end of next year," he said.

The Palestinians are boycotting Mr Pence's trip and say Mr Trump's announcement on Jerusalem disqualifies the US as a peace broker. But Mr Pence insisted he was still optimistic that US-mediated talks between Israelis and Palestinians could soon resume for the first time since 2014.

"We urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue," he said.

Arab-Israeli legislators who held up signs reading "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" in protest at the speech were forced out of the chamber. The leader of the Arab Joint List party, Ayman Odeh, said: "Our protest is in honour of all who oppose the occupation and dream of peace."

The Palestinians demand to have East Jerusalem as their capital, which Mr Pence did not rule out, despite previous statements to the contrary by Mr Trump.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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