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The Latest: Reporters criticize Israel’s strip-search policy

Mike Pence, Benjamin Netanyahu
The Associated Press

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

8:15 p.m.

The Foreign Press Association in Israel is speaking out against an Israeli demand to strip-search a Finnish journalist covering the visit by Vice President Mike Pence.

The woman says she was taken behind a curtain on Monday at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, where she says she was questioned, patted down, and then asked to remove her bra for an inspection. She says she refused and was barred from covering the event.

The woman, who was born and raised in Finland, believes she was singled out because her father is Palestinian.

The FPA, which represents some 400 journalists working for international media in Israel and the Palestinian territories, accused Israel of ethnic profiling. It calls the Israeli practice of strip-searching journalists a “mark of shame” aimed at intimidating reporters.

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6:05 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the “door’s open” for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel on a peace agreement.

Pence spoke to The Associated Press in an interview following his address to the Knesset on Monday. He says the U.S. is hopeful that the Palestinian Authority “will be encouraged to return to the table.”

Palestinian leaders have assailed the U.S. for its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it is no longer impartial. They have rejected the U.S. role in future peace talks.

Pence says President Donald Trump made clear in December that the U.S. would respect “the status quo” with regard to holy sites and that boundaries in the Holy Land would be subject to negotiations.

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4:30 p.m.

The Palestinians have issued an angry reaction to Vice President Mike Pence’s speech to the Israeli parliament, saying it was a “gift to extremists.”

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Pence’s speech on Monday “has proven that the U.S. administration is part of the problem rather than the solution.”

Pence repeated the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said the American Embassy will be moved to the city next year, earlier than previously expected.

The U.S. decision upended decades of American policy, and the stance of the international community, that the fate of Jerusalem be settled through negotiations.

The Palestinians claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital and accuse the U.S. of siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in their conflict.

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3:20 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is calling the Iranian nuclear deal a “disaster” and says the Trump administration will no longer certify it.

Instead, Pence told the Israeli parliament on Monday that the administration is “committed to enact effective and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

Pence has received a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among the fiercest opponents to the nuclear accord the Obama administration reached with Iran, saying it could pave a path for the Islamic Republic acquiring a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel’s existence.

Pence says that the deal is not fixed and that in the coming months, the United States will “withdraw from the deal.”

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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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