JERUSALEM, Israel—The leader of the Arab-Israeli bloc in the Knesset confirmed that the United Arab Coalition Joint List was boycotting Vice President Mike Pence's speech to the Knesset on Monday. Ayman Odeh also took aim at the vice president's faith and personally disparaged President Trump.
Pence arrives in Israel Sunday on the last leg of a four-day trip that included stops in Egypt and Jordan.
Odeh tweeted a message in Hebrew, translated into English by the Jerusalem Post.
The translated message says Pence is, "a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region. He is coming as an emisssary of an even more dangerous man: a political pyromaniac, a racist and a misogynist who must be prevented from trailblazing into our region."
נשאלתי האם יש שינוי בעמדתנו לגבי ביקור סגן הנשיא פנס; מדובר באדם מסוכן בעל חזון משיחי שכולל את חורבן האזור כולו שמגיע בשליחותו של אדם מסוכן אף יותר, פירומן פוליטי, גזען ומיזוגן שאסור שיהיה מתווה דרך באזורנו, הרשימה המשותפת כולה תחרים את נאומו במליאה.
— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) January 20, 2018
Odeh is the leader of a political coalition elected by eligible voters among 1.8 million Arabs who are citizens of Israel. Many are angry about the Trump administration's decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and about reports that the vice president urged such a move.
At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said about the tweets, "It is a disgrace that MKs (Members of the Knesset) seek to boycott the speech. We will all be there and will give the vice president the honor due him."
Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan strongly criticized Odeh's comments in a tweet of his own, saying, "I condemn in the strongest terms the outrageous statements by Ayman Odeh, who denigrated and belittled@VP#Pence and plans to boycott his speech. Israel's Arab citizens deserve better leadership than Ayman & his fellow extremists."
Palestinian Authority leaders also are refusing to meet with Pence, who arrives in Tel Aviv Sunday evening Israel time. In addition to his Knesset speech, the vice president will meet with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and will visit the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.