US Vice President Mike Pence addressed Israel’s Knesset on Monday, and he said all the right things, if you’re Israeli, that is.
Pence told his Israeli hosts that the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, that the Trump Administration would never let Iran obtain nuclear weapons, and that it is pressing the Palestinians to return to peace negotiations on Israel’s terms.
There was an overabundance of praise for Pence’s speech from Israeli leaders.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan gushed that “we are fortunate to have merited to hear his solemn and moving words,” which Erdan called “historic” and “moving.”
“Today is an exciting day,” said the minister, before describing Pence as “a great leader who really loves us with all his heart, not as a politician, but out of deep faith and understanding of the role and mission of the Jewish state.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked added her appreciation for Pence’s “very Zionist” speech.
Needless to say, Israel’s Arab antagonists were less thrilled. In fact, the Arab members of Israel’s Knesset interrupted Pence just as his speech began. Every member of the Joint Arab List stood in unison holding signs reading “Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine.”
After they were ejected from the plenum according to Knesset protocol, Pence had the perfect response.
“It is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy,” said the vice president, highlighting the fact that, contrary to accusations of apartheid, even the most hostile of Israel’s citizens are free to voice their opinion.
Pence then continued to hitting back hard at his detractors: “To have the great honor to address this Knesset, the first vice president to be afforded that privilege, here in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.”
Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat dubbed Pence’s remarks a “messianic discourse” and a “gift to extremists.”
Erekat said the Palestinian Authority now sees America as part of the problem, rather than one that can facilitate a solution.
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