White House Official Explains Reason Behind Delay of Pence's Mid East Visit

Dec 21, 2017, 01:02
White House Official Explains Reason Behind Delay of Pence's Mid East Visit

"We have some senators who obviously can't make it there for the vote and the vice president feels that it's important for him to be here for the largest tax cut in history", the official said. Pence is postponing his trip to Egypt and Israel until the middle of January, citing an upcoming vote in the Senate to overhaul the nation's tax system.

US Vice President Mike Pence has delayed a visit to the Middle East, the White House said on Monday, as a crunch tax vote on Capitol Hill looms and anger in the region over Washington's policy shift on Jerusalem persists.

Trump said he had made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital to keep a campaign promise, noting that several of his predecessors had vowed to do so, but never did.

The Palestinian Authority said it was not going to meet with Pence during his trip that was going to include a visit to Bethlehem, Christ's birth place, and a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas. His decision came amid an uproar in the Middle East over the Trump administration's decision to designate Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine", Abbas' diplomatic adviser, Majdi al-Khaldi, said three days ago. The Republicans' already thin margin in the Senate became even more precarious when McCain, who is battling brain cancer, was hospitalized for side effects of his treatment.

Ed Troyer Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman
Ed Troyer Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman

Pence was expected to travel to Egypt on Wednesday to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi before travelling to Israel.

Trump's decision countered an global consensus that Jerusalem's status should be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Egypt's Coptic Church cancelled a meeting between Mr Pence and Pope Tawadros II following the Jerusalem announcement.

The change of plans comes days after Palestinian officials cancelled their meeting with Pence in the West Bank following Trump's decision last week to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. In doing so, senior officials said the protests were not a factor and that the vice president needed to stay in Washington until the tax vote was completed.

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