Vice President Pence told Israel’s Knesset on Monday that the U.S. Embassy will open in Jerusalem next year, ahead of schedule.

In an address to the Israeli parliament on Monday, Pence defended the controversial decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which has been condemned by the Palestinians and their Arab allies.

Pence says the administration will advance its plan in the coming weeks and the embassy will open by the end of 2019. Previous estimates had been the move would take three or four years.

The Palestinians claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital. They say the U.S. cannot be a mediator after the decision and have pre-emptively rejected any peace plan presented by the Trump administration. 

President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, saying it’s time to “acknowledge the obvious.”

“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” Trump said. “It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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