Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Knesset on Monday, announcing the movement of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 2019, condemning Iran’s malign activities in the Middle East, and praising the United States’ enduring friendship with Israel.
The speech got off to a dramatic start when 13 Arab members of the Knesset followed through on a planned protest, waving signs that read “Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine” in opposition to the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month. They were ejected by the chamber for violating Knesset rules.
Pence said the United States would open its embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019, calling President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision the righting of “a 70-year-old wrong.”
“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,” Pence said.
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the chamber and often standing to applaud, Pence said the U.S. decision was one that chose “fact over fiction,” and he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution.
He encouraged the Palestinian leadership to return to the table for peace talks, saying agreements could only come through dialogue. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem, and said there will be “no peace” if Jerusalem isn’t the capital of a Palestinian state.
Pence also addressed the “scourge” of radical Islamic terrorism, and the chief state sponsor of terrorism in the world, Iran. Pence called the Islamic Republic a cruel dictatorship that squanders money on malign activities, and he ripped its clandestine pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
Echoing Trump, Pence called the Iran nuclear deal, which was brokered by the Obama administration, a “disaster.”
“The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Referencing the recent mass protests by the Iranian people against the government, Pence said the Iranians would soon be free of oppression, and the friendship between them and Americans would “blossom once again.”
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