Hawzah News Agency (Washington, US) - Dallas-based preacher Robert Jeffress told Fox News on Sunday night that he would be leading a prayer during the ceremony to open the new US embassy in Israel, a controversial move that is guaranteed to stir violence in the occupied Palestinian lands.
Jeffress, who has a history of hateful comments against Muslims, is a long-time supporter of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He has the track record of extreme intolerance and is known for labeling just about any religion, other than his own, as heresy. The most scathing of his numerous attacks have taken aim at Islam, describing the religion as evil.
Jeffress once said that “the dark dirty secret of Islam" is that "it is a religion that promotes pedophilia.”
He also once compared the Catholic Church to a cult which was the result of “genius of Satan.”
Jeffress, who was involved with the 2016 Trump campaign, has been part of Trump's inner circle and addressed his family in private before the inauguration.
Mitt Romney, a Senate candidate and former Republican presidential nominee, on Monday morning denounced the controversial pastor and called to remove Jeffress from his participation in the embassy opening ceremony.
Romney said Jeffress was a "religious fanatic" and accused him of inciting violence against religious minorities.
"Such a person should not lead the service at the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem (al-Quds)," he said.
Trump’s decision to move the US diplomatic mission to the ancient city has been met with outrage among Palestinians, who deem Jerusalem al-Quds as the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Only in Gaza, a coastal strip of land that has been under Israeli siege for a decade, thousands of people have pledged to partake in protests along border with Israel.
Protests in Gaza started on March 30 and have been regularly held over the past seven Fridays under the title of the “Great March of Return.”
Israel has shown a violent reaction to peaceful protests by Palestinians in Gaza Strip, killing close to 50 of them and injuring thousands over the past seven weeks.
The Gaza rallies will culminate on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which marks the creation of Israel on May 15, 1948.