Hamas lauds Arab Israeli lawmakers for anti-Pence protest
Ariel Schalit (POOL/AFP)
The Gaza-based Hamas group praised Israel’s Joint Arab List lawmakers on Monday after they heckled Vice President Mike Pence during his speech at the Knesset, wiedling signs reading “Jerusalem is Palestine.”
“Hamas praises the role of Palestinian members in the Israeli occupation Knesset in refusing the racial speech for Mike Pence against Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and assures that Al-Quds is the eternal capital of Palestine,” Hamas wrote in a Tweet.
In a much anticipated and deeply divisive speech from the Vice President, members of the predominantly Arab “Joint List” faction had previously announced that they would boycott the address by absenting themselves from the plenum.
#Hamas praises the role of Palestinians members in the Israeli occupation #kenesset in refusing the racial speech for Mike #Pence against Alquds and assures that #Alquds is the eternal capital of #Palestine.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) January 22, 2018
Instead, in a show of opposition, the parliamentarians brandished signs declaring that “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” written in both English and Arabic. The ruckus lasted for less than a minute before the ushers ripped the banners from the dissenters and forcefully escorted them from the chamber. Member of Knesset for the Joint List, Jamal Zahalka accused the ushers of using excessive force.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman publicly criticized the outburst and tweeted that the Joint List, “proved once again that they are representative of terrorist organizations in the Knesset.” Adding that, “only when Israeli Arabs allow other voices to represent them will be a chance for true peace.”
Meanwhile, Pence swept aside the interruption and said he was “humbled to speak before such a vibrant democracy.”
He then continued to deliver a rousing speech to his supporters, peppered with biblical references expressing his admiration for the holy city of Jerusalem, to which he feels a strong connection to due to his Evangelical background.
Lauding President Trump’s decision that he said “righted a 70 year wrong” to recognize Jerusalem as Israel capital, he pledged that the US would relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to the ‘capital’ by the “end of next year.”
The US Vice President in expressing his bid for a two-state solution urged the “Palestinian leadership to return to the table” adding that “peace can only come through dialogue.”
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, denounced Pence's speech as "messianic" and a "gift to extremists".
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called for a general strike across "all Palestinian sectors" on Tuesday, set to coincide with the final day of Pence's trip and amid his visit to Jerusalem.
Hamas have been vocal in expressing their outrage at Trump’s widely-contested December 6 decision and leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada (“uprising” in Arabic) encouraging Palestinians to “go out in anger” and defend the holy city.
Trump's backing of Israel's claim over the holy city delivered a major blow to the Palestinians, who claim Arab-majority East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired state.
Originally envisaged as an area to be kept under international control in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem has remained contested between Israel and its Arab neighbors ever since.
Even though Israel has fully controlled the city since 1967, and moved most of its government institutions there, no country has moved its embassy from Tel-Aviv or has accepted to call Jerusalem Israel’s capital.
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