Benjamin Netanyahu noticeably didn’t applaud a key part of Mike Pence’s big speech to Israel’s parliament

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem January 22, 2018.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem January 22, 2018.
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REUTERS/Ariel Schalit/Pool

  • Vice President Mike Pence gave a landmark speech to Israel’s parliament.
  • During the speech, Pence said the US supports a two-state solution if both Israelis and Palestinians agree.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noticeably did not applaud that line.

Vice President Mike Pence gave a landmark speech to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Monday, during which he repeated a key piece of US policy that may have made Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unhappy.

During his speech, Pence reiterated that the US would support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “if both sides agree.”

Observers said reaction to the line split the Knesset on party lines – opposition left-wing members of Knesset gave a standing ovation, while the right-wing Likud party, including Netanyahu, stayed seated. Netanyahu’s reaction got special attention from Israel watchers.

Pence’s Middle East trip comes after President Donald Trump’s major December speech on Israel, during which he announced that the US would formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump also said the US would move its embassy in the country to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Trump notably said in his speech that the US remained open to a two-state solution, using similar language to Pence.

“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides,” Trump said. “The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.”

Pence addressed another key part of Trump’s December speech in his Knesset speech, saying the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem by next year. Previously, the process was expected to take several years.

While various parts of Pence’s speech were applauded by Israel’s right-wing, left-wing, or both, the speech also saw protests by Arab Israeli members of Knesset, who appeared to be forcefully removed.