US Vice President to delay Middle East visit following Palestinian snub

US Vice President to delay Middle East visit following Palestinian snub
Before Pence delayed his visit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ aides had said he will not be meeting the US vice president when he visits the region.
2 min read
15 December, 2017
Mike Pence was snubbed by the Palestinian leadership after Washington's Jerusalem decision [Getty]
US Vice President Mike Pence will delay and curtail his upcoming trip to the Middle East to be on hand for an upcoming Senate tax vote, while taking into account the unwillingness of Palestinians and others to meet with him while in Egypt and Israel.

The White House said on Thursday that Pence now plans to leave for Egypt on Tuesday so he can preside over the Senate during a likely vote next week on the Republicans’ sweeping tax package. Pence serves as president of the Senate.

Pence also shortened the length of his planned trip to the region after Palestinian officials and leading Muslim and Christian clerics in Egypt said they would refuse to meet with him.

Pence had originally been scheduled to leave on Saturday for Israel, following President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said the vice president now would travel first to Egypt and then to Israel.

“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,” Farah said in a written statement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ aides said earlier this week that he would not meet with Pence when the US vice president visits the region.

Trump's nod to Israel on Jerusalem came at a time of mounting speculation about the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian deal the US might propose.

Wednesday's extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation ended with a call on Trump to rescind an "unlawful decision that might trigger chaos in the region" and on the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.