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Israeli-Arab party leader says he will boycott 'messianic' Pence

Ayman Odeh, 40, a first-time parliamentary candidate and the leader of the combined Arab list, from the communist Hadash party, poses in his house in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Haifa, Israel, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.
AP Photo/Dan Balilty
Odeh says Pence promotes a “messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region"

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab majority Joint List, confirmed on Saturday he intends to boycott US Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Israeli parliament as part of the Middle East tour he kicked off today in Cairo.

In a tweet, Odeh called Pence “dangerous” because of his “messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region" and said his whole party, which holds 13 seats in the Knesset, will shun Pence's address.

In the tweet, he further lambasted Donald Trump as a "racist" and "political pyromaniac". 

Odeh had previously promised he would not attend, but then Pence’s visit was postponed leading to speculation over whether fall-out over the Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was behind the rescheduling of the trip.

Pence’s spokespeople have been adamant that the voting of tax-reform bills at the American Congress in Washington was the reason of delay in the Middle East visit, not the series of cancellations by locals stakeholders in protest of the Trump December speech on Jerusalem.

Pence is is thought to have played a key role in the works that led to the Trump declaration in which the US President recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, specifically because of his support base of of pro-Israeli evangelicals.

In the original statement where he declared the Joint List will boycott the Pence speech, Odeh said he wanted “to send a clear message to the US administration and the world that there are citizens here who strongly oppose Trump’s declaration and to clarify that the US has lost its place as the exclusive mediator of negotiations.”

“West Jerusalem will be recognized as Israel’s capital by the whole world as soon as the government of Israel recognizes East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state,” the statement also read.

Originally envisaged as an area to be kept under international control in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem has remained contested between Israel and its Arab neighbors ever since.

Even though Israel has fully controlled the city since 1967, and moved most of its government institutions there, no country has moved its embassy from Tel-Aviv or has accepted to call Jerusalem Israel’s capital.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by Trump sparked a wave of outrage in the Arab world, even though he still signed a six-months waiver which has delayed the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem since a 1995 Congress vote in favor of the move.

Arab-Israeli citizens have also demonstrated against the Trump speech, and Joint List MKs confronted Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in a harsh debate at the Knesset after he called them "war criminals".

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