Pence heads to Middle East

Pence speaks in Israel's parliament

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks in Israel's parliament in Jerusalem on Jan. 22 2018

In Israel, his last and longest stop, Pence is to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Odeh also said his 13-seat party in the 120-seat parliament will boycott Pence's scheduled address to the parliament on Monday.

The Palestinian government suspended all contact with the Trump administration after the USA president's December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital - a move that drew condemnation from across the Arab and Muslim world. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, canceled a planned meeting with Pence in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

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"[Pence] is a risky man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region", he also said.

"He comes here as the emissary of an even more risky man, a political pyromaniac, racist and misogynist who must be prevented from taking control of our region", Odeh said, referring to Trump.

"It's an opportunity to sit down with our most cherished ally in the region to represent the President and to sit down and talk not only about regional stability but also about the US-Israeli relationship with an eye of countering Iranian malign influence and security in the form of Iranian proxies and how we can both work together to help mitigate that threat", a senior White House official said.

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US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum after he delivered a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017 as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on.

Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it shortly afterwards, claiming it part of its indivisible capital. Trump stressed in his speech that recognizing the city as Israel's capital was not meant to take a position its final boundaries, which he said should be decided in peace talks between the sides.

"The entire Arab List will boycott his speech". The PA said it would not meet with any U.S. officials regarding the peace process following Trump's declaration on Jerusalem.

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Another source of tension is the USA decision this week to freeze tens of millions of dollars meant for the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA).

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