The Latest: Pence urges Palestinians to return to talks

Mike Pence, Benjamin Netanyahu
The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is “strongly” urging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

In a speech to the Israeli parliament, Pence said on Monday that “peace can only come through dialogue.”

The Palestinians have angrily protested the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and say the U.S. cannot be trusted as a mediator. They have said they will reject any peace plan the Trump administration presents.

Pence told the parliament that Israel “can be confident” that the U.S will never compromise Israel’s security.

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3:05 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, ahead of schedule.

In an address to the Israeli parliament on Monday, Pence defended the controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which has been condemned by the Palestinians and their Arab allies.

Pence says the administration will advance its plan in the coming weeks and the embassy will open by the end of 2019. Previous estimates had been the move would take three or four years.

The Palestinians claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital. They say the U.S. cannot be a mediator after the decision and have pre-emptively rejected any peace plan presented by the Trump administration.

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3 p.m.

Arab lawmakers in Israel’s parliament have been tossed out from the house for heckling Vice President Mike Pence at the start of his speech.

The main Arab party in the Israeli parliament warned ahead of time it would boycott Pence on Monday.

The Knesset, which is accustomed to such high-profile visits, had added a new layer of security, and besides the speaker and other dignitaries, lawmakers did not have direct access to Pence.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, said it was the party’s democratic right to boycott the speech by the U.S. vice president. In a tweet, he said the party will not provide a “silent backdrop” to a man he called a “dangerous racist.”

Netanyahu called the boycott a disgrace. He and other gave Pence a standing ovation.

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2:45 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is thanking visiting Vice President Mike Pence for standing up for the “truth” and supporting Israel at the United Nations.

Netanyahu told Pence on Monday in a speech to parliament that President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital will go down as one of the most historic in Israel’s history.

Alternating between English and Hebrew, Netanyahu lauded the unbreakable alliance between the countries, saying they had a “shared destiny.”

He said: “America has no greater friend than Israel, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States of America.”

Pence has received a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem. The decision has infuriated the Palestinians and upset America’s Arab allies as well.

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2:35 p.m.

Dozens of Palestinians are demonstrating in the West Bank city of Nablus against the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to Israel.

Protesters chanted against President Donald Trump and stepped on pictures of Pence in a sign of anger.

Some shouted: “Trump you are pig. May God demolish your home. How mean you are!”

The Palestinians are furious at Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as their capital and accuse Trump of siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict.

The Palestinians say the United States cannot be a mediator and have pre-emptively rejected any peace proposal the White House offers.

The Palestinians plan a mass strike on Tuesday against the Pence visit.

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2:10 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at Israel’s parliament to deliver the keynote speech of his two-day visit that was part of a Mideast trip.

Pence signed the Knesset guest book on Monday and laid a wreath for the fallen soldier at its entrance plaza.

Pence has received a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The decision has infuriated the Palestinians and upset America’s Arab allies as well.

The main Arab party in the Israeli parliament said it will boycott Pence’s speech — though it wasn’t immediately clear whether they would walk out in protest, heckle or skip the session altogether.

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10:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has kicked off a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Pence placed his right hand over his heart as an honor guard greeted him with the American national anthem.

White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, joined Monday’s ceremony before Pence and Netanyahu began their meeting.

Pence is receiving a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The decision has infuriated the Palestinians and upset America’s Arab allies as well.

Before Israel, Pence has visited Egypt and Jordan on the trip.

He is to deliver a speech to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, later in the day.

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