Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. will complete the plan to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, announcing a faster timeline for opening the embassy than had been previously reported. Pence announced the new deadline during his visit to Israel.
"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," Pence said.
Pence spoke in Israel's Knesset on Monday, after meeting with leaders in Egypt and Jordan over the weekend.
The vice president also spoke to reporters alongside Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — whom he echoed when he called Jerusalem, the hotly contested city, "Israel's capital."
Netanyahu was clearly pleased by those remarks, NPR's Tamara Keith reports from Israel. But she added via Twitter that there were some signs of dissent when Pence spoke to the legislature.
"Members of the Knesset who stood and held signs in protest at the start of VP Pence's speech are ushered out," Tamara wrote, posting video of the scene showing several Israeli lawmakers being removed from the chamber.
President Trump announced in early December that the State Department would "begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," saying that he was delivering on a pledge to move the embassy. No country in the world currently has an embassy in the city.
Trump also recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital — a move that other presidents had avoided for decades as they left the designation of the city to be decided in peace talks. Jerusalem is claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians.