THE US ‘will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year’, US Vice-President Mike Pence said addressing the Israeli parliament (Knesset) yesterday. His announcement caused immediate uproar from Arab politicians. Some held up signs saying ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.’
The Knesset guards then descended on the Arab politicians and a struggle broke out. The guards wrestled the Arab politicians to the door and they were forcibly ejected from the building. Other Israeli members of the Knesset walked out in protest at US Vice-President Mike Pence’s address.
Pence’s address sparked furious anger amongst the masses of Palestinians who were already on the streets protesting against his visit. A general strike across the occupied territories has been called for today. Palestinians had taken to the streets of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, gathering in Bethlehem’s Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity.
They carried signs that read ‘Pence you are desecrating our land’ and ‘Pence go home.’
They also cheered and waved Palestinian flags as a large photo of the vice president burned on the ground.
Aida Tuma-Suleiman, part of the Joint Arab List faction in the Israeli Knesset said: ‘We decided to leave the hall when Pence was giving his speech because we want to deliver a message to Israeli society in general and to the world that Pence is not accepted and welcomed by all the citizens of Israel. There is at least 25-30% of the people in Israel who do not welcome him or his policy, or the policy of his administration.’
Previously it had been estimated that the US aims to move its embassy to Jerusalem in three or four years time, so the announcement that it intends to move the embassy next year represents a major stepping up of the war against the Palestinians.
When President Trump in December announced the US’ intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem it triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Arab countries, as well as big demonstrations in the US, the UK and across Europe.