US Vice President Mike Pence delays Israel visit, set to arrive Wednesday

Mike Pence is scheduled to be welcomed Thursday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office.

United States Vice President Mike Pence (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
United States Vice President Mike Pence
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
US Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, three days later than originally planned, so that he can be in the US to participate if necessary in Senate votes on tax reform.
Rather than arriving on Sunday, Pence is expected to fly in from Egypt on Wednesday evening.
“We are so close to passing pro-growth, pro-jobs tax reform for hard-working families,” Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, told The Jerusalem Post. “Yesterday, the White House informed Senate leadership that due to the historic nature of the vote in the Senate on tax cuts for millions of Americans, the VP would stay to preside over the vote.”
Pence vows US loyalty to Israel during AIPAC speech (credit: REUTERS)

Earlier this month, Pence was called upon to cast the tie-breaking vote – which is the vice president’s prerogative – on an amendment to US President Donald Trump’s tax-reform bill, an indication of why he felt it was necessary to postpone his trip and be in Washington when final voting on the bill takes place. The Republicans are hoping that the final votes will be held next week.
After the vote, Farah said, Pence will travel to Egypt and Israel, where “he’ll reaffirm the United States’ commitment to its allies in the Middle East and to working cooperatively to defeat radicalism. He looks forward to having constructive conversations with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to reaffirm President Trump’s commitment to our partners in the region and to its future.”
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem dismissed as baseless speculation that Pence’s postponement had anything to do with widespread Palestinian and Muslim criticism over the US decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said after Trump’s announcement that he would not meet with the vice president.
Pence is scheduled to leave Washington on Tuesday and arrive in Egypt the next day, where he will hold a bilateral meeting with Sisi. From there he will fly to Israel in the evening and visit the Western Wall soon after his arrival.
On Thursday, Pence is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Netanyahu, address the Knesset and then have dinner with Netanyahu in the evening at his residence. On Friday, he is slated to meet with President Reuven Rivlin and visit Yad Vashem, before flying back to Washington via Germany, where he will visit US armed services personnel at Ramstein Air Force Base.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report from Washington.