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Trump 'actively considering' US embassy Jerusalem move: VP

The embassy move was a major campaign promise [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 November, 2017

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US Vice President Mike Pence said Donald Trump is considering when and how to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump is "actively considering when and how" to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his vice president said on Tuesday, evoking a controversial campaign promise that the administration had sidelined.

Mike Pence made the remarks in a keynote address at an event in New York commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote for partition of Palestine, which led to the creation of the state of Israel.

"President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence told the gathering of UN ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish leaders.

On June 1, Trump shied away from what was a major campaign promise by signing a legal waiver that keeps the embassy in Tel Aviv. The next six-month waiver is due to be signed this week.

"It's a question of when, not if," a US official said on June 1.

During his campaign for the White House, Trump expressed support for moving the embassy but did not renew the call - which would anger Palestinians and Arab states - when he visited Jerusalem this year.

But in October, Trump said he wants to give peace a chance, before deciding whether the US embassy in Israel should make the highly contentious move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Speaking about the peace deal, Trump said he wants to "give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem". 

"Right now we are actually working on a plan that everybody says will never work, because for many, many years it never worked - they say it's the toughest deal of all, peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Trump said.

He then went on to debate whether the possibility of a peace deal between the two sides is near. 

"So we're going to work that [peace deal]... I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem," he added. 

In 1995, Congress passed a law making it US policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel's claim on the city as its capital.

But the law contains a clause that has allowed each president since to issue and renew a six-month waiver on carrying out the move.

‘Two-state solution impossible’

Despite Trump seeing a possibility of a peace deal, Ramallah and Tel Aviv both say the prospect of a two-state-solution being achieved are getting dimmer.

The current Israeli government boasts it has done more for the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories than any other government.

"No other government has done as much for settlements in the land of Israel as the government which I lead," said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"Our generation has succeeded in achieving what past generations only dreamed about... We have returned to our home land, and have turned it once again into a land of milk and honey."

Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan says that Palestinian political reconciliation must be prioritised over negotiations with Israel, saying the two-state solution is now "impossible".

In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - whose presidency expired in 2009 - declared he would "look for alternatives" if the two-state solution was in jeopardy.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Abbas slammed Israel over the construction of new settlements "everywhere", adding they were putting the two-state solution in jeopardy.

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