US to open Jerusalem embassy in 2019

Pence

Vice President Pence in Cairo, Jan 20, 2018. (photo: Getty Images)

Pence announces plans to accelerate the move in a speech to the Israeli Knesset.

By Oliver Holmes | The Guardian | Jan 22, 2018


Q&A: What will US recognition of Jerusalem mean for the peace process?

The peace process has been at death’s door since the former secretary of state John Kerry’s peace mission ended in failure in 2014. But the international community — apart from the US — is united in saying recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is disastrous for any hopes of reviving meaningful talks. The status of Jerusalem is one of the pivotal issues that diplomats and peacemakers have said must be agreed between the two parties in negotiations.

Palestinians will see Trump’s announcement as the end of their hopes and demands for East Jerusalem as a capital of a future independent state. While few want a return to violence, many will feel diplomatic efforts have got them no closer to a state of their own.

The Israeli government will be thrilled. Ever since it captured (and later annexed) East Jerusalem in the 1967 six-day war, Israel has claimed the city as its “eternal and undivided” capital, and has longed for international recognition. Some 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements will also celebrate.


The US will open its embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019, ahead of schedule, the vice-president, Mike Pence, has said. Arab-Israeli politicians were ejected from the Knesset at the start of Pence’s speech for heckling.

“In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the US embassy in Jerusalem – and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year,” he said in a speech to roaring applause in the Israeli Knesset.

Speaking during a two-day visit, Pence said Donald Trump had “righted a 70-year wrong” by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A live-stream of the address run by the US embassy was interrupted during the demonstration, in which legislators held signs saying: “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”

The move has been condemned by the Palestinians, their Arab allies, and much of the broader diplomatic community, who say the status of the city should be decided in future peace negotiations.

In a speech filled with biblical references, Pence, an evangelical Christian, said America stood with Israel “because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, your fight is our fight.”

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