Israeli Arab MPs to boycott speech by Pence


JERUSALEM: A coalition of Arab parties in the Israeli Parliament said Saturday it will boycott a speech by visiting US Vice President Mike Pence, calling him “dangerous and messianic.”

Pence, who arrived in Cairo on Saturday to start his first Middle East tour, travels on Sunday to Jordan and to Israel later the same day.

He is scheduled to address the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, on Monday.

The visit by Pence, a devout Christian, comes amid widespread anger in the Arab world over a Dec. 6 decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

His trip had originally been scheduled for December but was postponed because of the furor over the Jerusalem decision, which broke with decades of international diplomacy.

The Palestinians have frozen contacts with the Trump administration and have said Pence would not meet any Palestinian leaders.

“He is a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region,” Israeli Arab parliamentarian Ayman Odeh said of Pence.

Odeh heads the United List of Arab parties, the third largest political group in Parliament with 13 seats.

“He comes here as the emissary of an even more dangerous man, a political pyromaniac, racist and misogynist who must be prevented from taking control of our region,” Odeh said, referring to Trump.

“The entire Arab List will boycott his speech.”
Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who stayed on when Israel was created in 1948. They are Israeli citizens and represent 17.5 percent of the population.

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