Israeli Arab Lawmakers Forcefully Removed After Protesting Pence Speech

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Israeli Arab politicians protested when Mr Pence took the podium, heckling him and holding up signs in Arabic and English reading "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" before they were removed from the building.

Vice President Pence is the highest-level US official to visit Israel since President Donald Trump's trip to the region last May, and the first American vice president to address the legislature.

"He's going to say I'm not going to withdraw from the peace process, I will stay committed", Mr Al Malki said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among the fiercest opponents to the nuclear accord the Obama administration reached with Iran, saying it could pave a path for the Islamic Republic acquiring a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel's existence. White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, joined the ceremony and Pence chatted briefly with Israeli soldiers before beginning his meeting with Netanyahu.

Foreign minister Riad Al Malki said Mr Abbas will tell the European Union it should take the step "as a way to respond" to USA president Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

He said the US would support a two-state solution, but only if both sides support it. Netanyahu's hard-line government is dominated by opponents to Palestinian statehood, making such a scenario unlikely.

Pence, a vocal supporter of the Jewish state, spoke at the Israeli legislature on Monday afternoon - the first time a senior USA official has addressed the body since President George W. Bush marked the 60th anniversary of Israel's establishment with a Knesset speech in 2008.

But Abbas' call for the European Union to immediately and officially recognise the state of Palestine won little support in the lunch meeting, diplomats said.

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The most likely location is in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood in a modern building that now handles US consular affairs like issuing passports, birth certificates and travel visas, said a USA official, who wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Whoever won't discuss peace with the Americans, doesn't want peace", he said. "We want to talk", he said.

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

Responding to Pence's speech, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: "If the United States wanted to a play a role of a mediator in the peace process it must be a fair mediator and it must abide by (international) resolutions". The Knesset, which is accustomed to such high-profile visits, has added a new layer of security and other than the Speaker and other dignitaries, lawmakers will not have direct access to Pence.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab Joint List, defended his party's right to boycott and protest the visit.

"In response to voices that are against our decision, we will not be silent about the speech made by a risky racist whose whole reason for being here is in order to damage any chance of peace", he wrote Saturday on Twitter, announcing the boycott.

Netanyahu appeared more interested in talking with Pence on other issues, including Iran, Israel's main enemy.

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