- Pence faced protests from the Joint List coalition of Arab parties
- He said the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem next year
- They began shouting and holding up protest signs at the beginning of his speech
- Other parliamentarians tried to take down their placards and a fight broke out
Scuffles broke out in the Israeli Knesset as U.S Vice President Mike Pence made a speech announcing the United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, ahead of schedule.
Arab lawmakers held up signs condemning the move and were confronted by Jewish lawmakers before ushers subdued them in violent scenes.
Members of the Joint List coalition of Arab parties had pledged to boycott the Pence speech in protest at a Dec. 6 decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, said the group will not provide a "silent backdrop" to a man he called a "dangerous racist."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the boycott a disgrace. He and other lawmakers gave Pence a standing ovation.
In his speech, Pence defended the controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which has been condemned by the Palestinians and their Arab allies.
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The administration will advance its plan in the coming weeks and the embassy will open by the end of 2019, much earlier than previous estimates the move would take three or four years.
Pence responded to the disturbance by saying he was humbled to speak before such a "vibrant democracy," before delving into his prepared remarks about the two countries' unbreakable bond.
"I am here to convey one simple message. America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight," he said.
"We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, good over evil, and liberty over tyranny."
To prolonged applause, he said: "Jerusalem is Israel's capital, and as such President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"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."
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.