US Vice President Mike Pence waves to the crowd at a UN event in New York marking 70 years since the Partition Plan was approved.
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
US President Donald Trump is “actively considering when and how” to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, Vice President Michael Pence said Tuesday, placing the issue back on the agenda six months after Trump signed a waiver keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv.
Pence’s comment came at an event put on by the Israeli mission at the UN to mark 70 years since the passing of UN Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. That vote paved the way for Israel’s creation by calling for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Tuesday’s event took place at the Queens Museum, where the original UN vote – which passed 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions – took place.
Although Trump pledged repeatedly during his campaign to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he signed a waiver on June 1 blocking the move.
After Trump signed the waiver, a White House spokesman said moving the embassy was a matter of “when, not if.”
Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating moving the embassy but stipulated that each US president could sign a waiver every six months that would effectively keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. Trump will have to make a decision within the next couple weeks whether to sign it once again.
In his comments, Pence said Israel did not need a resolution to call for its existence “because its right to exist is self-evident and timeless,” adding: “While Israel was built by human hands, it’s impossible not to see the hand of heaven here, too.”
Pence said that, under the current administration, the US will “always stand with Israel. As President Trump says, ‘If the world knows nothing else, let them know this: America stands with Israel.’”
He also noted that the Trump administration recently decertified the Iranian nuclear deal and that “our administration is working with Congress to overcome some of the Iran deal’s most glaring problems.
“Under President Trump, the US will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons,” he vowed. “This is our solemn promise to you, to Israel and to the world.”
Pence said Trump is committed to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and in recent months has made progress toward that goal.
“And while compromise will be necessary, you can rest assured: President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who organized the event at the museum – recreated to look like it did when the historic vote was taken – said:
“Seventy years ago, in this very room, in these very seats where you are sitting today, the dream of the Jewish people of 2,000 years came true. In 1897, Theodor Herzl dreamed of the impossible. In 1947, the Jewish people realized the impossible. And today, in 2017, 70 years later, the modern State of Israel has made the impossible, possible. From this day onward, for the next 70 years and beyond, Israel will continue to be a beacon of democracy, a powerhouse of innovation and a light unto the nations.”