TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Pence made the announcement during an address to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) on Monday, amid outrage over US President Donald Trump’s globally condemned decision last month to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime.
"Jerusalem [al-Quds] 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 [al-Quds]," Pence said to prolonged applause from Israeli lawmakers.
"In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States embassy in Jerusalem [al-Quds]. And that United States embassy will open before the end of next year," he added.
Reaffirming Washington’s unflinching support for the Tel Aviv regime, the US vice president also called for the resumption of so-called peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.
"Today we strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table," he said. "Peace can only come through dialogue."
Pence’s address was briefly disrupted at the outset when a group of Israeli Arab lawmakers in the Knesset held up protest signs in Arabic and English that read "al-Quds is the capital of Palestine," before being immediately pushed out by ushers.
The US vice president, who is on a Middle East tour and has already met with the Egyptian president and the Jordanian King, is the first political American figure to visit Israel after Trump’s December 6 decision to move the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
The US media reported last week that the Trump administration was accelerating the process of embassy relocation by transferring the American mission to an existing consular building in the Arnona neighborhood of West Jerusalem al-Quds as soon as 2019, instead of building a new facility there.
This is while the State Department had estimated that it would take “at least three years, and quite possibly longer” to complete the move since the timetable was based on the assumption that a new embassy building would be constructed.
Pence’s speech ‘gift to extremists’
The Monday speech by Pence drew an immediate reaction from Palestinians, with Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, describing the US vice president’s address as a "gift to extremists."
Erekat said Pence’s speech “has proven that the US administration is part of the problem, rather than the solution.”
Source: Press TV