Ahmad Tibi
Ahmad TibiHadas Parush/Flash 90

The positions of the Trump administration “match the positions of the Jewish Home party,” Arab MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) said yesterday on Channel 10’s London et Kirschenbaum program, ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s speech before the Knesset to take place this afternoon.

On Saturday, Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh announced that his party would boycott Pence’s speech, calling Pence a “dangerous man” with a “messianic vision.”

"He is a dangerous man, who has a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region. He comes here as the emissary of a man who is even more dangerous - a political pyromaniac, racist, and misogynist who cannot be allowed to lead the way in our region.

"The entire Joint List will boycott his Knesset speech."

Odeh had already indicated his party would boycott Pence’s speech back in December to protest Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He claimed that such a move would "send a clear message to the US administration and the world that there are citizens here who strongly oppose US President Donald Trump’s declaration and clarify that the US has lost its place as the exclusive mediator of negotiations."

"West Jerusalem will be recognized as Israel’s capital by the whole world as soon as the government of Israel recognizes East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state," he said then.

Speaking yesterday on Channel 10, Tibi explained his party’s boycott of Pence’s speech as a “step that is entirely protest. It’s goal is to say that this man and his president have caused a deterioration in the situation.”

Tibi asserted that Pence and Trump “have taken the most extreme positions, which match those of the Jewish Home in the conflict. The positions of Pence match [Jewish Home MK Betzalel] Smotrich.”

“Whoever asserts that Trump will present the ultimate deal, and then on the eve of presenting the deal takes a position that completely adopts the occupation narrative, including the subject of Jerusalem, cancels his own role,” he added.

“The man whose role is to mediate between the sides, on the issue of Jerusalem one of the most sensitive in a permanent solution, comes and says that Israel is the one that will effectively determine the borders of its capital,” Tibi asserted. “He accepted de facto the decision to annex the eastern part of the city in 1967 and cancelled the decision of the State Department.”

Tibi asserted that one factor contributing to Trump’s positions on Israel was the influence of three of his advisers - whom he referred to as “the most extreme supporters of the settlements,” and suggested that Trump could have chosen Jewish advisers who supported the left-leaning J Street instead.

Asked about the Joint List’s constituency, Tibi said that the White House knows the political stance of Israeli Arabs well, both on the civil and national level.

“We would be betraying our voters if we were to treat Pence with respect and stand there like good little children,” he concluded.