Lawmakers with Israel’s Arab coalition protested during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Knesset on Monday. (Photo: Haaretz/screenshot)
By Jessica Corbett / 01.22.2018
A scuffle broke out and lawmakers with Israel’s Arab coalition were forcibly removed by security officers on Monday after raising placards in protest during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s speech in the Knesset, the Israeli legislature.
Video footage from the protest shows security guards ripping signs that reportedly delcared Jerusalem the capital of Palestine out of lawmakers’ hands. The lawmakers from Israel’s third-largest party were then forced into the hallway.
After the Joint Arab List’s chairman, Ayman Odeh, was removed from the assembly, he denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter.
Proud to lead the Joint List in strong, legitimate protest, against the Trump-Netanyahu regime’s exaltation of racism and hatred, who speak of peace solely as lip service.
Our protest today in the plenum is in honor of all who oppose the occupation and dream of peace.
— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) January 22, 2018
Odeh had tweeted in Hebrew over the weekend that “the entire Joint List will boycott his speech,” calling Pence “a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region” who “comes here as the emissary of a man who is even more dangerous.” He described Trump “a political pyromaniac, a racist misogynist who cannot be allowed to be lead the way in our region.”
In his address, Pence lauded the recent decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital—a move that has provoked international outrage—and vowed the U.S. embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv by the end of 2019. Pence claimed the decision was made “in the best interest of the United States” and “peace,” and called on Palestinians to return to talks with Israel.
Ahmad Tibi, a popular member of the Joint List, told Newsweek before the address that “Pence pressed for the U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem and indicated that discussions on it are off the table,” concluding, “This administration is part of the problem and not part of the solution.”