Haskel: Pence's speech was fantastic - and a relief for Israelis

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During an exuberant welcome, Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejoiced in the Trump administration's decision last month to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

But during a speech to the Knesset - Israel's parliament - Monday afternoon (local time), Pence 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 USA will reimpose economic sanctions against Iran.

The Trump administration's plan to accelerate the move of the embassy, announced in the first address of a sitting American vice president to the Knesset, marked the highlight of Pence's visit celebrating President Donald Trump's decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Abbas last week denouced USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as "the slap of the century".

The Joint Arab List lawmakers began to raise signs saying, "Jerusalem is The Capital of Palestine", and protesting U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Jerusalem.

The Arab lawmakers were escorted from the chamber by Knesset ushers after they attempted to disrupt the vice president's speech.

The Palestinians claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital.

Many countries believe Jerusalem should ultimately be shared between Israel and a future Palestinian state and so are unwilling to make decisions about recognition of its status before a comprehensive peace settlement is agreed.

As Pence spoke, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas arrived to meet European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, urging them to "swiftly" recognize the state of Palestine.

Netanyahu said Sunday night, using Abbas' Arabic nickname: "Regarding peace, I have a message to Abu Mazen". There, Abbas is expected to urge European Union member states to recognize a state of Palestine in the pre-1967 war lines, and to step up involvement in mediation.

China says United States warship violated sovereignty near Scarborough
Beijing considers any U.S. patrols within 12 nautical miles of the islands as an intrusion into its territorial waters. The Philippines has sparred with China for decades over what it says is aggressive conduct at the Scarborough Shoal.

The strike was called in accordance with a recent decision by the Palestine Liberation Organization to organize "popular and peaceful resistance" to Trump's decision.

"I've had the privilege over the years of standing here with hundreds of world leaders and welcome them, all of them, to Israel's capital, Jerusalem", said Netanyahu.

In Amman on Sunday, Jordan's King Abdullah II, one of America's key allies, said: "Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews".

Before arriving in Israel, Pence held meetings with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan and USA officials travelling with him said that he had sought to encourage them to pressure the Palestinians to return to peace talks.

Despite the pandemonium, Pence expressed hope in an interview with The Associated Press after the speech that the Palestinians would re-enter negotiations. But there has been speculation that Pence could announce a stop-gap arrangement, such as the conversion of one of the U.S. consulate buildings in Jerusalem to a de facto embassy.

The Palestinian leadership has said it will not accept the Trump administration as a mediator in peace talks with Israel and wants an internationally-led process.

Pressed if he was serious, Netanyahu said: "No, but we want to do it".

Palestinians protest against the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence outside the church of nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on January 21, 2018.

Littlejohn said her denomination works with Palestinian Christians and that she belongs to a grass-roots group engaged in peace efforts. The vice president is now on a Middle East tour, with previous stops in Jordan and Egypt, where he has faced tension following the Trump administration's recent policy decisions.

His statement was hailed by Israel but angered the Palestinians, with whom Pence has no meetings during his visit, and raised tensions in the region.