U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump was "seriously considering" moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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Speaking before the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., Pence also said that Trump was committed to "finding an equitable and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and to "forging a lasting peace in the Middle East."
Pence's mention of moving the embassy was the first time a Trump administration official has spoken publicly about the issue in more than two months, after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in January that the administration was "in the early stages of the decision making process" on the matter. The last time Trump was asked about the promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, he said it was "too early to talk about it."
Regarding Trump’s commitment to Israel, Pence said: "While there will have to be compromises, President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel." He added that the Trump administration "will stand without apology for Israel" and that President Trump is "a life-long supporter of Israel. Under Donald Trump, the world will know this: America stands with Israel."
From the stage, Pence gave a shout-out to David Friedman, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Israel, who was in the audience. Friedman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week and Pence said he will oversee Friedman's swearing-in to the office this week. Friedman received overwhelming applause from the crowd at Washington's Verizon Center.
Pence's speech was the last on the first day of AIPAC's annual conference. On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before the conference via satellite from Jerusalem and opposition leader Isaac Herzog will speak at the conference itself. This will be second straight year that Netanyahu chooses not to personally appear before AIPAC's conference.