Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka calls VP Mike Pence “persona non grata.” (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We will boycott Pence’s speech, which will be a eulogy for peace,” Arab Knesset member Jamal Zahalka declared. Netanyahu slams the boycott as a “disgrace.”

By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted members of the Arab Joint List Sunday for plans to boycott US Vice President Mike Pence’s address to the Knesset Monday.

“I view it as a disgrace that Knesset members 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,” the prime minister said in his opening remarks to the weekly cabinet meeting.

Members of the party doubled down on their decision. Member of Knesset (MK)  Jamal Zahalka told Israel Broadcast Corporation (Kan) said the party’s protest’s would be “reigned in” but defended the Arab community’s right to voice its concerns about the US administration.

“We will boycott Pence’s speech, which will be a eulogy for peace,” Zahalka said. “We view him as a persona-non-grata: He represents a government that supports the Netanyahu/Bennett-style radical right. Go Home, Pence!” Zahalka wrote on Twitter.

Zahalka’s comments came on the heels of his faction, Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh, who called Pence’s views “dangerous” and “messianic.”

“[Pence was] sent by an even more dangerous man, who is a political pyromaniac, a racist and a chauvinist, who should not be path leader in our region,” Odeh stated.

MK Ahmed Tibi added that the decision was made as a result of U.S President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, “We will be boycotting Pence’s speech because of Trump’s speech,” he said, adding that “Pence was one of the main pushers for the embassy move, and it was his outrageous [positions] that removed Jerusalem from the [negotiating] table.”

According to Tibi, the Trump administration is “part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

In response to the Joint List’s decision, as well as Odeh’s comments on Pence, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said that the MK “slandered and belittled the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence,” adding that “Israel’s Arabs deserve better leadership than Odeh and his extreme partners.”