Pence may visit Israel before Biden’s inauguration

The arrivals come on the heels of US Sec. of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Israel last month.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and US Vice President Mike Pence in Jerusalem, January 2018 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and US Vice President Mike Pence in Jerusalem, January 2018
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
US Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien plan to visit Israel in the coming weeks, according to several sources.
O’Brien’s visit is expected to take place next week, while Pence is likely to arrive in Israel in early January, before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on the 20th of the month.
Pence visited Israel in 2018 and addressed the Knesset, and at the beginning of this year, when he took part in a ceremony alongside the leaders of over 40 countries in Jerusalem to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.
The high-profile arrivals from the Trump administration come on the heels of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip last month. During that visit, Pompeo announced that the US would allow products from Judea and Samaria to be labeled “made in Israel” and that the State Department would withdraw support from any entity backing the movement to boycott Israel.
That visit sparked speculation that the Trump administration is trying to unload as many pro-Israel policies as possible before Biden takes office with a different policy style.
However, soon after the visit, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, R. Clarke Cooper, denied that is the case.
“When one looks at our alliance on Israel, it is not one that is determinate on any type of government. These commitments are well established across the decades and administrations,” he said.
Some also speculated that Pompeo wanted to show his pro-Israel bona fides ahead of a 2024 run for president, an analysis that would likely apply to Pence, as well.
Meanwhile, Israel has not been in contact with the incoming Biden administration, beyond an initial congratulatory phone call between the president-elect and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
When asked what outreach efforts have been made to Biden’s team, a source in the Prime Minister’s Office referred to a recent interview Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer gave to MSNBC this week, in which he referred to speaking with the incoming administration in the future tense, implying he had not yet done so.
Dermer met with Trump’s transition team about two weeks after he was elected in 2016.
Netanyahu has, however, been sending public messages to the Biden administration, by way of speaking out against the 2015 Iran Deal, which Biden seeks to rejoin.
In an online conversation with Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute in Washington last week, Netanyahu said the deal “paved the way” for Iran to launch proxy wars throughout the Middle East and develop nuclear weapons.
“It’s a mistake to go back to the JCPOA. You shouldn’t go back to that flawed agreement,” Netanyahu stated.