The US Vice President faced a popular backlash among Palestinians while addressing the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, during the last leg of his first Middle East tour; the outcry reflects Arab and Muslim resentment that followed US President Trump’s acknowledgement of Israel’s claim that Jerusalem is the nation’s capital in December.
The Arab lawmakers in Israel’s parliament started to yell at Mike Pence during his speech, which marks the first address in Jerusalem by a high-profile US official after President Trump’s decision to recognize the holy city as Israel’s capital.
The lawmakers were swiftly removed from the session, according to social media reports.
Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint Arab List, a group of Palestinian parties that holds 13 seats out of 120 in the Knesset, tweeted earlier that they will boycott the speech of Pence, a “dangerous racist” whose presence in Jerusalem is undermining the possibility for peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“The choice to boycott the speech is a democratic choice in a legitimate tool to express protest and all the hysteria we hear from the decision-makers in the Knesset is simply embarrassing,” he said, in addition to a separate statement that he made, saying that “Dangerous Man” Pence had come to Jerusalem to destroy the entire Middle East.
The news of possible boycott has been circulating in the local media, with rumors suggesting that Arab lawmakers will just walk out of the Knesset before Pence start his speech.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting with Mike Pence he was glad to be with the US Vice President in “Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.” The officials are set to discuss boosting “remarkable” US-Israel alliance and advancing “peace and security in our region.”
The visit to Jerusalem is the third leg of Pence’s official visit to Middle East states after stops in Jordan and Egypt. The vice president has talked with officials on a prolongation of the cooperation the light of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The move to recognize the ancient city as the Israeli capital was made in early December, with President Trump pledging to move the US embassy there. The announcement has caused protests across the Muslim world and among Palestinians in particular, with Palestinian leaders saying Washgtin can no longer mediate the conflict between Jews and Palestinians.
The UN General Assembly has a resolution that rejected the US decision in a 128-9 vote, with 35 abstentions, and asked nations not to establish their diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.