U.S. Vice President Mike Pence touches the Western Wall in Occupied Jerusalem's Old City. Image Credit: REUTERS

Occupied Jerusalem(Bloomberg) - President Donald Trump will act on his recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by transferring the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in 2019, Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli parliament.

“In the weeks ahead our administration will advance its plan to open the United States embassy in [occupied] Jerusalem, and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year,” Pence said in a speech Monday at the Israeli Knesset. Trump had directed the State Department to “immediately begin preparations” for the move, Pence said.

At virtually the same moment as Pence was tightening Trump’s embrace of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in occupied Jerusalem, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was appealing to Europe to recognise a Palestinian state and emerge as an alternative diplomatic sponsor.

Accepting an independent Palestine would “open the doors to peace” and give his people hope, Abbas told E.U. foreign ministers gathering in Brussels. Palestinian officials refused to meet with Pence over Trump’s recognition last month of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it disqualified the US as a mediator. Palestinians hope to make the eastern part of the city their own capital.