US Vice President Mike Pence is welcomed by PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL) (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)
Pence Netanyahu

While Israel warmly welcomed US Vice President Mike Pence, the Palestinians are boycotting his visit.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

US Vice President Mike Pence was warmly welcomed in Israel when he landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeting him as “a great friend of the State of Israel…a true friend.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leader Mahmoud Abbas are boycotting Pence’s visit over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while the Hamas terror organization said that Pence is “unwelcome.”

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum stated Sunday that Pence’s visit to the region “is not welcomed. There is no justification to meet with Mike Pence at any level, especially after his recent statements in which he totally dismissed Jerusalem and recognized it as an eternal capital of the Israeli Occupation.”

He further stated that Hamas “is keen to foil all the American and Israeli schemes that target the Palestinian people’s rights” and called on “all pro-Palestinian nations and groups to continue their efforts to express refusal to the American interference in the region and the American Israeli plots.”

“We hail the unique steadfastness of our people and the people of the free world in facing these American plans,” Barhoum concluded.

The Israeli-Arab leadership joined in, with the Joint Arab List faction in the Knesset announcing that it will attempt to disrupt and then walk out on Pence’s special address at the Knesset on Monday.

Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint Arab List, said that his 15 party members will boycott the speech in protest of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.

On Saturday, Odeh tweeted in Hebrew that Pence “is a dangerous man with a messianic vision, which includes the destruction of the entire region. He is coming as an emissary of an even more dangerous man: a political pyromaniac, a racist and a misogynist who must be prevented from trailblazing into our region. The entire Joint List will be boycotting his speech in the plenum.”

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he viewed “it as a disgrace that MKs intend to boycott this important visit to the Knesset and are even seeking to disrupt it. We will all be there and will show Vice President Pence the great respect that he is due.”