President Trump, accompanied by Vice President Pence, right, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center left, speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on July 19. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
NEW YORK — President Trump is “actively considering” how to follow through on his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Vice President Pence said Tuesday, reopening a divisive question that put Trump at odds with military and diplomatic advisers and close allies.
Pence drew whoops and applause at an event marking 70 years since the United Nations vote that led to the creation of the state of Israel when he contrasted the Trump administration’s stance on the embassy issue to that of past U.S. administrations.
“While for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said.
Congress mandated in 1995 that the embassy be relocated from Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub, to disputed Jerusalem. Each president since has deferred the move, citing national security risks. Trump did the same in June, setting aside a campaign promise to immediately order the relocation. He acted, reluctantly, on advice from Cabinet heads, Jordanian King Abdullah II and others who argued that such a move could ignite violence. Palestinians claim part of Jerusalem as a future capital.
At the time, the White House said moving the embassy could jeopardize nascent administration efforts to restart Mideast peace talks.
Trump faces another deadline, on Friday, to say what he will do about the embassy, and Pence’s remark suggests that Trump may move ahead with a relocation plan. Pence did not mention the upcoming deadline.