Arab Israeli lawmakers will boycott Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset, with the head of a coalition of Arab parties saying Saturday that the US vice president is “dangerous” and has a “messianic vision” that threatens the region.
Pence landed in Egypt Saturday to kick off a Middle East trip that will also include stops in Jordan and Israel, after canceling a December visit due to the passage of US tax reform.
Ahead of his arrival, Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh said MKs in his party would not attend Pence’s Knesset speech due to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In a Twitter post Saturday, Odeh said his party would go through with an earlier promise to skip Pence’s address to the Knesset plenum.
“[Pence] is a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region,” he also said.
Odeh also attacked Trump, saying he was “even more dangerous” than Pence and a “political pyromaniac” and a “racist” woman-hater. He slammed the US president’s Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking efforts and said Trump “must not have a [political] road map for the region.”
The Arab lawmaker said after Trump’s December 6 declaration that the US “has lost its place as the exclusive mediator of negotiations.” echoing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has struck out strongly at the Trump administration since the announcement on Jerusalem.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, as the capital of its future state. Trump stressed in his speech that recognizing the city as Israel’s capital was not meant to take a position its final boundaries, which he said should be decided in peace talks between the sides.
In addition to being boycotted by Arab MKs, Pence is also being shunned by the PA and will not travel to Ramallah or meet with Palestinian leaders. The PA said it would not meet with any US officials regarding the peace process following Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem.
Pence’s visit to the region comes as Abbas has ramped up his criticism of Trump and his peacemaking efforts. In a speech Sunday, the PA leader called a peace plan being formulated by Trump the “slap of the century” and claimed Israel was a European “colonial project.”
In response to Abbas’ refusal to engage in American-brokered peace talks, the US has frozen tens of millions of dollars in aid to the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, although the State Department said the second tranche of funds was being held up due to the need for “reform” at the organization.