Knesset Speaker calls on all MKs to attend US VP's speech

MK Yuli Edelstein responds to plan by Joint Arab List to boycott speech by Vice President Pence in Knesset this week.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

US Vice President Mike Pence
US Vice President Mike Pence

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to all Knesset members Monday urging them to attend the Knesset plenum during the speech by US Vice President Mike Pence this Thursday amid threats by the Joint Arab List that they will boycott the speech.

In his letter, Edelstein noted that this is an important event held at the request of the Vice President, whose purpose is to express the warm relations between Israel and the United States.

"The presence of all Knesset members in this meeting is of the utmost importance," he stressed. "Those who are absent from it will harm the image of the Knesset, express contempt for the vital interests of the State of Israel, and - in a matter which is no less grave - disappoint those who sent them to the Knesset, the citizens of Israel. On Thursday, we will honor our position and fill the plenum, or we will have to see the shameful images of the empty plenary once again."

"The responsibility for the success of the event lies with each and every one of us personally, and I expect you to make every effort to reach the special meeting," he said.

Earlier, at a presidential meeting Edelstein said, "I do not understand how people can not come to hear the US vice president. It is unthinkable that the media record an empty Knesset plenum."

The MKs from the Joint Arab List have announced that they would boycott Pence's speech in protest against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh said in a statement today that the members of his party would boycott Pence’s address “to send a clear message to the US administration and the world that there are citizens here who strongly oppose Trump’s declaration and to clarify that the US has lost its place as the exclusive mediator of negotiations.”

The Joint Arab List was formed from four small Arab parties with differing platforms in 2015 in order to pass the newly-raised electoral threshhold for Knesset seats, from 2% to 3.25% of the vote. It gained 13 seats in the present Knesset, making it the third largest party after the Likud and Zionist Union, followed by Yesh Atid with 11 seats. The Knesset, however, has 120 members, so that if the most of the MKs heed the Speaker's call, the Joint List's absence will not be glaringly obvious.

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