Saturday, October 24, 2020

Palestinians boycott Pence’s visit

By Martin Leeper - January 23, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [US foreign policy] [Jerusalem]

Palestinian leaders across the board have boycotted US Vice President Mike Pence's visit on January 22 and 23 in protest at Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last month.

Pence's visit was met with a general strike in the West Bank and Gaza, where most shops remained closed. Some Palestinians protested near military checkpoints or other friction areas with the Israeli army.

Pence’s visit is the first official US visit since the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Vice President's trip included a visit to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, and a speech at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, on January 22. While Palestinian leaders in the West Bank refused to meet him, members of the Joint List, an alliance of mostly Arab parties in the Knesset, boycotted the speech.

“Pence [especially] is one of the very extreme politicians in the United States,” Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Joint List and Chair of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, told Palestine Monitor. “[He is] totally supportive of the occupation and settlements in the West Bank. [His] leading policy approaches are racist and Messianic.”

Touma-Sliman went on to explain the Joint Arab List's decision. “We needed to show and deliver a clear message that says not all citizens of Israel are happy to have such a politician [visit the Knesset]. The fact that the Israeli government and Knesset are celebrating his visit makes us further insist on showing the message clear to the world—he is not welcome here. His policy is very dangerous for this region and we don’t want to take part in this celebration.”

Minutes into his speech, Pence was interrupted by members of the Knesset holding signs declaring Jerusalem is Palestine’s capital. The members were immediately surrounded and escorted out of the chamber. Moment’s later, undeterred, Pence continued to tout the declaration of the United States saying last month President Tump “righted a 70 year wrong… [when] the United States of America finally acknowledged that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.” Claiming that the U.S. would open its Jerusalem Embassy “by the end of next year.”

Pence ended with platitudes for peace, while advocating for strong security, ending the current “disaster” that is the Iran-nuclear deal, and vowing to “drive Radical Islamic Terrorism from the face of the Earth.”

Earlier in the day, the chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, had tweeted: “He is a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region.”

Since the announcement last month, the world has seen massive protests from Bangladesh, to Egypt to Syria, but in Palestine itself, protests have often turned into clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces. At least 13 Palestinians have been killed with many dozen injured since the announcement.  

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