ADDS PENCE'S REMARKS
By Abdul Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced Monday the U.S. President Donald Trump administration will advance the plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem -- “before the end of next year”.
Delivering a speech in the Israeli Knesset (parliament), Pence repeated more than once that, “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” emphasizing the current U.S. administration’s stance announced by Trump on Dec.6 by recognizing Jerusalem as “Israel’s capital” sparking a wave of protests across the Palestinian territories that has left at least 16 Palestinians dead to date.
“President Trump has directed the state department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embasy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said.
“That United States embassy will open before the end of next year,” he added.
“We strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue,” Pence noted.
“America stands with Israel! … your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight,” he stressed.
The U.S. vice president also has read prayers in Hebrew what was met with a standing ovation from the Knesset members.
On the U.S’administration’s stance towards the nuclear deal with Iran, Pence said that "the Iran nuclear deal is a disaster and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement," he said.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence began his visit to Israel on Monday with a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in West Jerusalem.
The visit is the first by a senior U.S. official since President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's "capital" last month.
Palestinian officials have refused to meet Pence during the visit in protest of Trump’s decision, which has triggered outcry across the Arab and Muslim world and protests in the Palestinian territories that left at least 17 people dead.
On Sunday, Netanyahu described Pence as a great friend of Israel during a meeting with Israeli ambassadors accredited abroad.