VP Pence Revives Talk of U.S. Moving Embassy to Yerushalayim

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, Sunday. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday revived talk of the possibility that the United States may move its embassy to Yerushalayim from Tel Aviv, saying President Donald Trump was seriously considering the matter.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, President Trump’s team spoke often about moving the U.S. embassy to Yerushalayim. But since taking office, the contentious issue appears to have moved to the backburner.

“After decades of simply talking about it, the president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Vice President Pence said in a speech to the influential, pro-Israel U.S. lobbying group AIPAC.

Israel regards Yerushalayim as its eternal and indivisible capital, and wants all countries to base their embassies there, though Israeli politicians also understand that moving the U.S. embassy there could be destabilizing.

If the United States were to relocate its embassy, it would be seen as an explicit recognition of Yerushalayim belonging to Israel, potentially pre-determining the outcome of eventual peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President Trump’s pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer allied with the Israeli Right, who favors moving the U.S. embassy to Yerushalayim.