Palestinian backlash as Pence addresses Israel's Knesset

Palestinian backlash as Pence addresses Israel's Knesset
A number of Palestinian MKs have held a protest against Vice-President Mike Pence's speech to Israel's parliament, angry over the US' embassy move.
2 min read
22 January, 2018
Palestinian parliamentarians began shouting and holding up protest signs during Pence's speech. [Getty]
Palestinian members of Israel's parliament were ejected from the Knesset on Monday, as they stood to protest against a speech by US Vice President Mike Pence recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Members of the Joint List coalition of Palestinian parties had pledged to boycott the Pence speech in protest at a 6 December decision by US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

On Saturday, MP Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List party, said Pence was a "dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region".

A number of parliamentarians began shouting and holding up protest signs at the beginning of Pence's speech, before ushers pushed them out.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said Pence's speech to Israel's parliament was "messianic" and a "gift to extremists".

"His message to the rest of the world is clear: Violate international law and resolutions and the US will reward you."

Pence began his visit to Israel on Monday by meeting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

His highly controversial tour of the Middle East has been overshadowed by President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet Pence amid anger at the White House's Jerusalem policy, making his visit a rare one by a high-ranking US official not to include talks with the Palestinians.

On Monday, Abbas urged EU member states to "swiftly" grant official recognition to the state of Palestine as he arrived to meet foreign ministers from the bloc in Brussels.

"We truly consider the European Union as a true partner and friend, and therefore we call its member states to swiftly recognise the state of Palestine and we confirm that there is no contradiction between recognition and the resumption of negotiations," Abbas told reporters.

A week ago Abbas denounced Trump's efforts to resolve the long-running conflict as the "slap of the century" and caused alarm by saying Israel had sunk the so-called Oslo accords that underpin the stalled peace process.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank protested Pence's arrival by burning posters with his image.