Pence's Knesset speech infuriates Palestinians

The vice president's speech was briefly disrupted by Arab Israeli MKs, who held up signs that read "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" and were then promptly ushered out of the plenum.

January 23, 2018 09:12
2 minute read.

Arab Israeli lawmakers are escorted out of Israeli parliament during Vice President Mike Pence's speech (Reuters)

Arab Israeli lawmakers are escorted out of Israeli parliament during Vice President Mike Pence's speech (Reuters)


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Palestinians voiced anger on Monday at US Vice President Mike Pence's speech at the Israeli parliament where he said that the US Embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem by the the end of 2019.

Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said there was "no point" in meeting with Pence, and added that the Palestinians had refused to do so over a month ago. Shaath also suggested that Pence simply "said what was necessary for (US President Donald) Trump's point of view."

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US President Donald Trump last month recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said he would move the US Embassy there - angering the Palestinians who claim the eastern part of the city as well as Arab states across the region.

Pence's speech was briefly disrupted, at the outset, by Arab Israeli parliament members who held up protest signs in Arabic and English, reading "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine," and were ejected by ushers.

Pence responded to the incident by saying with a smile: "It is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy."

Though shunned by the Palestinians, the Trump administration says it remains committed to helping them and Israel negotiate a peace deal. Those talks have been stalled for almost four years.

Outisde the Knesset, Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi told reporters: "We lifted a photo saying that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, it is a political position and not all of those who were in the Knesset supported Pence and his messianic policy. We, the third party in the Knesset, said No to Trump, No to Pence. And we will continue to demand Israeli-Palestinian peace biased on putting an end to occupation and East Jerusalem as a capital of Palestine."

While Fatah has called for a general strike ahead of Pence's visit, there were no organized protests against Pence during his only full day in Israel.

On the street in Jerusalem, one Palestinian said that Pence is "more Zionist than the Zionists," while another added that the entirety of Pence's speech was in agreement with the Knesset's right-wing Zionist parties and that the vice president "beats many Israelis because he supports the extreme Israeli policies."

Hamas spokesperson Fawza Barhoum said the speech was full of "extreme and racist remarks" and reiterated the militant group's position on Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

On Twitter, the group praised the Arab MKs who interrupted "racial' Pence's speech, adding that Al Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) "is the capital of #Palestine."

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