JERUSALEM — Vice President Mike Pence told Israel’s parliament Monday that the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, receiving a rousing ovation as he pledged to barrel ahead with a plan that has set off weeks of unrest and thrown U.S. peace efforts into disarray.

The plan to accelerate the move of the embassy, announced in the first address of a sitting American vice president to the Knesset, marked the highlight of Pence’s three-day visit to Israel celebrating President Trump’s decision last month to recognize 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,” Pence said.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and as such President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said.

Pence’s speech drew an angry denunciation from the Palestinians, with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat saying it “has proven that the U.S. administration is part of the problem rather than the solution.”

‘THE DOOR’S OPEN’

Yet Pence, in an interview after the speech, said he remained hopeful that the Palestinians would re-enter negotiations. “Our message to President (Mahmoud) Abbas and the Palestinian Authority is the door’s open. The door’s open. President Trump is absolutely committed to doing everything the United States can to achieve a peace agreement that brings an end to decades of conflict.”

The embassy is to be opened in an existing U.S. facility that will be “retrofitted” to meet safety and security requirements, Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said in Washington. He said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had yet to sign off on the safety plan for the new facility but would do so in coming weeks.

The most likely location is in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood in a modern building that currently handles U.S. consular affairs such as issuing passports, birth certificates and travel visas, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. consul-general works out of another Jerusalem facility that handles political affairs and diplomatic functions.

The retrofitted building had been originally envisioned as an interim plan that would allow Trump to quickly fulfill his vow to move the embassy.

It was unclear after Pence’s speech whether Trump still intended to break ground later on a new embassy elsewhere in Jerusalem or to use the retrofitted one permanently.

“We expect that to be the embassy,” Goldstein said of the facility that will open next year. “We do not have a plan at current to build a new embassy.”

Pence was preceded on the Knesset dais by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lavished his guest with praise and gratitude. It was part of an exceptionally warm welcome for Pence in Israel, which has been overjoyed by Trump’s pivot on Jerusalem.

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