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Mike Pence says U.S. embassy to open in Jerusalem next year

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US Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on January 22, 2018.
The visit, initially scheduled for December before being postponed, is the final leg of a trip that has included talks in Egypt and Jordan as well as a stop at a US military facility near the Syrian border. Controversy back home over a budget dispute that has led to a US government shutdown has trailed Pence, and he sought to blame Democrats for the impasse during a speech to troops at the military facility a day earlier. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Ariel Schalit

The American embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of next year, United States (U.S.) Vice President Mike Pence told Israeli parliamentarians to enthusiastic applause.

Greeted by a standing ovation yesterday inside the Knesset, Pence’s speech was in its introductory phase when a scuffle broke out as Palestinian lawmakers from the Joint Arab List alliance raised posters of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in protest before they were forcibly removed by security.

“America stands with Israel,” Pence said, undeterred by the disruption. “We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause.

Your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.

“We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, and good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny,” Pence said to loud applause.

In an unprecedented move, the American embassy invited leaders of settler movements in the occupied West Bank to attend Pence’s speech in the Knesset – the first ever by Washington vice president.

American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is a staunch supporter of illegal Israeli settlements and in the past headed an organisation that donated millions of dollars to one in the West Bank.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Harry Fawcett said Pence’s address was directed at two groups: Israelis and his Christian conservative base at home.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, highlighted the “scary” tone of Pence’s address, noting the American vice president’s Christian Evangelical background.

“This is a Catholic turned Evangelical. It’s like almost a Wahhabite turned Ayatollah politician that is really bent on a religious war in the Middle East,” Bishara said.

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