Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a speech at Concordia University in Montreal after several hundred demonstrators managed to get into a university building.

The demonstrators, who called Netanyahu anti-Palestinian and a terrorist, threw chairs and newspaper boxes at police, who were trying to evacuate the building where Netanyahu was supposed to speak.

Police responded with pepper spray or tear gas, and made at least one arrest.

Netanyahu was not present. Police and his assistants said he would not give his speech in the circumstances.

There was a long standoff between the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and the students who had come to hear Netanyahu speak. The demonstrators were pleased they had stopped him talking.

"There's no free speech for hate speech," said Palestinian activist David Battistuzzi.

Earlier, Netanyahu told a media conference that democratic countries should back the U.S. proposal to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Saddam is willing to wage war, and must be stopped before he gets nuclear weapons, he said.

"To wait until this tyrant develops nuclear weapons would be a big mistake."

Netanyahu was Israel's prime minister from 1996 to 1999 as leader of the Likud Party.

Earlier this year, Likud members voted against the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu was the driving force behind the motion.

He is scheduled to speak in Toronto Tuesday, where more protests are planned.