WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is “actively considering when and how” to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision fiercely opposed by the Palestinians.
Pence spoke at a New York City event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations vote that led to the founding of the state of Israel.
Trump in June backed off a campaign pledge on the embassy move 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.
With the Trump administration facing a deadline within days on whether to move the embassy, Pence’s comments suggested 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.
Trump has set an ambitious goal of brokering Mideast peace and tapped his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to help lay the groundwork for direct negotiations. Kushner and other top Trump aides have traveled to the region to meet with Palestinians, Israelis and officials from Arab nations.
“As the president has made clear, our administration is also committed to finally bringing peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pence said. “As President Trump has said, in his words, ‘We want Israel to have peace.’ And in the recent months, we’ve made valuable progress toward achieving that noble goal.”