Less than two months after President Trump issued formal US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, unleashing a wave of protest among Palestinians as well as international outrage, Vice President Mike Pence is finally in the midst of his long awaited tour of the Middle East (specifically Israel, Jordan, and Egypt), which had been initially scheduled for December but canceled and pushed back due to increased unrest in the region.
Image source: Ariel Schalit via Reuters
After visiting Jordan, which included meeting with King Abdullah II where the two leaders "agreed to disagree" over the Jerusalem move, Pence addressed Israel's Knesset where he delivered a speech Monday afternoon. During the speech which Israel's Haaretz described as being "like an ecstatic sermon by an evangelist preacher traveling through the Holy Land" a scuffle broke out after Arab members of parliament began protesting and heckling the American vice president, holding up signs which read "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine."
Footage capturing the incident shows over a dozen lawmakers from a political party called the Arab Joint List standing moments into Pence's speech and shouting him down while holding small signs. It appears security was waiting for some type of disruption as a large team of staff quickly grabbed for the signs while rushing the group from behind, to which the protesting parliament members pushed back and a brief brawl ensued.
The Arab lawmakers were forcibly removed from parliament and ultimately ejected from the building, accompanied by the applause of the chamber for their removal. It took some time for the assembly to calm down after what some media outlets described as a "chaotic scene" with brawling between the protesters and security personnel appearing to continue into the hallway.
Chaos erupted as some lawmakers tried to charge forward with signs, protesting Vice President Mike Pence's address before the Israeli parliament. pic.twitter.com/BjmOGuJdQb— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 22, 2018
During the speech Pence reaffirmed Trump's commitment taking the next step's necessary to making the US recognition of Jerusalem a reality on the ground, saying "In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year ." He further said, "Our president made his decision in the best interest of the United States,” and added, "The United States has chosen fact over fiction."
Pence, an Evangelical Christian, peppered his speech heavily with Old Testament references throughout while pledging to "stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny."
He also called the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers "a disaster" and surprised his audience by declaring that the US would not re-certify the Iran deal when it comes up for renewal in May, virtually guaranteeing that the US will re-impose economic sanctions against the Iranian regime. Trump re-certified the deal earlier this month "for the last time", part of a deal with Democrats to buy them some time to work out a compromise.