United Arab List Plans to Boycott Pence Knesset Appearance

YERUSHALAYIM -
Ayman Odeh. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Knesset will be full on Monday, when U.S. President Mike Pence finally makes his much-anticipated speech in the Knesset. In attendance will be current and former ministers, President Reuven Rivlin, High Court President Esther Hayut, and almost all the members of the Knesset – except for the 13 members of the United Arab List, who will be boycotting the event.

“I was asked if there is any change in our stance on the visit of Vice President Pence,” Ayman Odeh, head of the UAL, wrote on social media over the weekend. “The answer is no. This is a dangerous man with a messianic outlook that includes a desire to see destruction of this region. He is a political pyromaniac, a racist, and inciter who has no place in our region. All of our MKs will boycott the speech.”

Pence is set to visit Israel this week, bringing with him his wife and an entourage of political and business officials. He will be the guest of President Reuven Rivlin, and will introduced in the Knesset by Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Rivlin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will speak in Hebrew before Pence, who will speak in English.

Speaking previously, Odeh said that members of the Arab party would walk out when Pence comes to speak in the Knesset “in order to deliver a message that there are many citizens here opposed to Trump’s recognition announcement, and to emphasize that the U.S. has lost its status as the sole custodian of negotiations. The entire world will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as soon as Israel recognizes eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.”

Commenting on the planned boycott, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that he “condemns the unbelievable declaration by MK Odeh, who insulted Vice President Pence and declared he would boycott his speech. Israeli Arabs deserve better leadership than Odeh and his radical friends can provide.”