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Arab politicians thrown out of the Israeli parliament for heckling US vice-president Mike Pence

Israeli-Arab members are removed by security staff from the Israeli parliament as US vice-president Mike Pence speaks Picture by Ariel Schalit/AP
By Associated Press Reporters

Arab politicians were thrown out of the Israeli parliament for heckling US vice-president Mike Pence at the start of a speech on Monday.

The main Arab party in the Israeli parliament had warned it would boycott Mr Pence

The Knesset had added a new layer of security, and besides the speaker and other dignitaries, politicians did not have direct access to Mr Pence.

Mr Pence earlier said it was an honour to be in "Israel's capital, Jerusalem" as he met the country's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu told Mr Pence it was the first time a visiting dignitary could utter those three words along with him, and he thanked Mr Pence for US president Donald Trump's "historic" recognition of Jerusalem.

During his speech to the Israeli parliament, Mr Pence said "peace can only come through dialogue" and called on Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

Palestinians have angrily protested against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and say the US cannot be trusted as a mediator. They have said they will reject any peace plan the Trump administration presents.

Mr Pence told Israel's parliament, the Knesset, that Israel "can be confident" the US will never compromise Israel's security.

Mr Pence also said the US will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, ahead of schedule.

He defended the controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which has been condemned by the Palestinians and their Arab allies.

Mr Pence said 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.

Mr Netanyahu lauded the American-Israeli alliance, which he said has "never been stronger".

The brief exchange was part of an exceptionally warm welcome for Mr Pence in Israel.

As well as infuriating the Palestinians, with whom Mr Pence is not meeting, the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital has upset the US's Arab allies as well.

 

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