Jerusalem, Jan 23, 2018 / 16:02 pm
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reaffirmed America’s commitment to both peace and persecuted Christians during his four-day trip to Israel and the Middle East, which concluded on Tuesday.
In a Jan. 22 speech to the Knesset, Israel’s national legislature, Pence confirmed that the U.S. government intends to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.
“Our President made his decision...we believe that his decision is in the best interests of peace. By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace,” said Pence, who added that America will support a two-state solution if both Israel and Palestine are in agreement.
On Dec. 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel has traditionally always recognized Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. is the first country to do so since the state was established in 1948.
As a result of the announcement, Pence’s trip to the Middle East was postponed, taking on a new tone and focus.
Pence had posted on Twitter on Dec. 4, “Important dialogue with Bashar Warda, the Archbishop of Erbil, about @POTUS' commitment to directly assist persecuted Christians & religious minorities in Iraq. I’m heading to the Middle East this month to discuss U.S. plans to accelerate funding those impacted in the region.”
However, following Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement, the Egyptian Coptic patriarch Tawadros II and other religious leaders stated that they would not meet with Pence.
Thirteen religious leaders in the region signed an open letter warning that the move would only lead to “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us father from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”