United States Vice-president, Mike Pence said on Monday that the U.S Embassy in Israel would be moved to Jerusalem before 2019 ends. These plans have infuriated Palestinian leaders and countries in the region.

Pence was received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu practically as a hero. The U.S vice-president spoke in Israel’s parliament or Knesset where he expressed his support for Israel and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital one more time.

Donald Trump, Israel, Jerusalem, Mike Pence, Mike Pence visits Jerusalem, Mike Pence and Netanyahu, US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital
Netanyahu welcomes Vice-president Pence with enthusiasm. Image credit: The Times of Israel

“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 declared. “In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year”, he added.

Pence: ‘The decision was made in the best interests of peace’

In the Israeli parliament, pence looked more at ease than he looked in the neighboring Arab countries, who support Palestine instead. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is now about to meet Europe’s foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss this matter and to asked them to recognize Palestine as a state.

However, even in Israel, he found some rejection, as Israeli Arab lawmakers walked out the room at the beginning of Pence’s speech. Another raised a sign reading “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” in Arabic and English before he was escorted out of the parliament by the security staff.

Pence said that the United States is speeding up the process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump gave this announcement in December, and it was estimated, by American officials themselves, that it would take 3 to 4 years for the embassy to open its doors in Jerusalem. However, Pence clarified that it will be ready to operate before 2019 ends and that this decision was made in the best interests of peace.

Netanyahu, who was excited by the presence of Pence, said that this would be the first official visit by a senior American official to Jerusalem as the capital of his country.

“Mr. Vice President, I’ve had the privilege over the years of standing here with hundreds of leaders and welcomed them, all of them, to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. This is the first time I stand here where both leaders can say those three words, ‘Israel’s capital, Jerusalem'”, said Israeli Prime Minister.

Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Jerusalem, Israel, Mike Pence visits Jerusalem, Mike Pence and Netanyahu, US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital
Mike Pence says U.S embassy in Jerusalem will open before next year ends. His statements were made in the Israeli parliament. Image credit: Los Angeles Times

The world is looking at Pence’s declarations with concern

Trumps’ decision regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, has not been supported by most of the world. Many world leaders say this decision doesn’t support the resolutions of the United Nations on the matter and that it doesn’t contribute to the peace process between Israel and Palestine, but promotes quite the opposite instead. Additionally, it is clear that the United States changed its historical foreign policy and cannot longer be a broker between the states’ negotiations.

The Palestinian leader, Abbas, is desperate for help from the European countries and he is having a meeting with the leaders of the European Union. Sadly, he shouldn’t expect much from them since they, unlike the United States, take decisions with caution and are not prepared to go that far.

Abbas wants the recognition of Palestine as a state, but maybe he just might get the recognition that only the two-state solution will work. France wants the European Union to grant an “association agreement” between the organization and the Palestinian Authority.

Disagreements with ‘friends’

In Amman, Jordan’s King Abdullah II remarked vice-president Pence that his government’s decision is not comprehensive. He said that East Jerusalem had to be then, the capital of a Palestinian state.

The King said he “had continuously voiced over the past year, in my meetings with Washington, my concerns regarding the US decision on Jerusalem that does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”. Then, the king added the following: “Today we have a major challenge to overcome, especially with some of the rising frustrations.”

After the meeting, Pence said the dialogue was cordial and said that it’s okay to have occasional disagreements with friends. However, this would be the last disappointment of Pence’s tour. The vice-president was banned by the Palestinian Authority from visiting Bethlehem. As well, senior Christian clerics in Egypt canceled long-planned events with Pence. In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said his country would put all the efforts to achieve a two-state solution.

Source: The Washington Post