Politicians Interrupt Mike Pence During Israel Speech In Protest & The Video Is Intense
Tensions have been high in the Middle East since President Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, as Israel's capital moving forward. Many worry that this will destroy any efforts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is why Israeli protestors interrupted Vice President Mike Pence's speech at Israel's Knesset on Monday.
Some lawmakers in the room stood and held signs in protest against the U.S. administration's decision to move the capital. Security immediately came onto the floor to remove the signs and escort the lawmakers out of the room.
"I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people," Pence said following the outburst. "America stands with Israel."
Pence is on his first official trip to the Middle East as VP and he's the first senior official of Trump's administration to make the visit. He'd postponed this trip in mid-December, shortly after Trump announced America was declaring Jerusalem Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there.
The lawmakers protesting Pence's speech were from the Arab Joint List, Israel's third-biggest party, according to Newsweek. They'd earlier promised to boycott Pence's speech, but chose to protest instead.
"This is a vibrant democracy," Pence reportedly said of the incident.
In his speech, Pence announced that the U.S. Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem by 2019.
Our president made his decision in the best interests of the United States — but he also made it clear that we believe this decision is in the best interests of peace.
Pence said that the U.S. administration wants to move the capital because they've "chosen fact over fiction." It's a call that favors Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his right-wing supporters.
According to analyst Aaron David Miller, who has worked on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations under both Democratic and Republican presidents, its unwise to make a move like this without asking Israel for anything in return or folding it into a broader agreement. He predicted that Palestinians, who've been oppressed by the Israeli government, would protest the capital change.
Since Pence touched down in Jerusalem, Jordanians have protested his presence in the Middle East. Jordan plays a key role in the Israel-Palestine conflict: 47 percent of the country's population is Palestinian Jordanian and Palestinian refugees.
Palestinian Jordanians are adamantly against Trump's decision to move the capital. According to The Jerusalem Post, protests have been happening outside the U.S. Embassy in Jordan almost every weekend since Trump made the announcement.
"I'm here for protesting the visit of the vice president of the United States of America," a protestor told The Jerusalem Post. "We disagree on their policies and we disagree with all their policies regarding this topic."
In a meeting with Netanyahu during his visit, Pence said he was honored "to be in Israel's capital, Jerusalem." The prime minister called the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital "historic" and claimed that the American-Israeli alliance has "never been stronger."
"It's fitting that you are the first American vice president to speak at the Knesset in Jerusalem, fitting because no American vice president has had a greater commitment to Israel and its people," Netanyahu responded.
Despite the anger that's erupted over the capital change, Pence called on Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel. He referred to the decision to move the capital as the "dawn of a new era of renewed discussions to achieve a peaceful resolution to a decades-long conflict."
However, Palestinian politicians have said that the U.S. can no longer be an honest negotiator with Israelis given this unprecedented decision.
"Pence pressed for the U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem and indicated that discussions on it are off the table," Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Joint List, told Newsweek before Pence's address. "This administration is part of the problem and not part of the solution."