The Latest: Israeli Arab lawmakers to boycott Pence speech

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2018 6:41 AM
The Latest: Israeli Arab lawmakers to boycott Pence speech

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence's Middle East tour (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

The main Arab party in the Israeli Knesset says it will boycott Vice President Mike Pence's speech to the parliament on Monday.

Ayman Odeh wrote on Twitter Saturday that the members of his Joint List will boycott the speech.

The Trump administration has infuriated the Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital — a move they see as one-sided.

In his tweet, Odeh called Pence "dangerous" and said he has a "messianic vision" that threatens the region.

It is not clear whether the Arab lawmakers will walk out on Pence or skip the session altogether.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to his Cabinet on Sunday, called the planned boycott a "disgrace" and said the vice president would be warmly welcomed.

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12:50 p.m.

Jordan's King Abdullah II is appealing to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to "rebuild trust and confidence" after the Trump administration's recent decision to designate Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Abdullah, a staunch U.S. ally, said Sunday in Amman that he hopes to have "candid and frank" discussions with the visiting vice president.

The Jerusalem decision has infuriated the Palestinians, who accuse the U.S. of siding with Israel and say Trump cannot serve as a mediator.

Abdullah noted that the U.S. decision was not part of a "comprehensive settlement" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He says the U.S. now has a "major challenge to overcome."

Pence says the U.S. is "committed to restarting the peace process."

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7:30 a.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is defending President Donald Trump's move to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, a decision that has touched off uneasiness among Arab nations on his first tour of the region.

Pence was meeting Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II for discussions that are expected to include the Trump administration's December decision on Israel's capital and plans to shift the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The vice president said after meeting Saturday with Egypt's President Fatah Abdel el-Sissi that he emphasized the U.S. commitment to the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.