Pence's Israel, Egypt trip delayed further for tax vote

Pence's Israel, Egypt trip delayed further for tax vote
The US vice president has further delayed his trip to the Middle East to see through President Donald Trump's tax overhaul.
2 min read
18 December, 2017
Mike Pence shortened his scheduled trip due to snubs from Palestinian officials [Getty]

US Vice President Mike Pence has postponed his visit to Egypt and Israel due to a congressional vote on President Donald Trump's tax reform plans, White House officials said on Monday.

Pence was due to travel to Egypt on Tuesday night, however officials now say he will depart for the Middle East on the week of January 14.

"The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line," said Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "The vice president looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January."

On his scheduled three-day trip, Pence was set to become the first senior US official to visit Jerusalem following US President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognise the disputed city as Israel's capital.

Pence had previously 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.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' aides said that he would not be meeting with Pence when the US vice president visits the region.

On Sunday, Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem set fire to placards with pictures of Pence, Trump and Jason Greenblatt, the Middle East negotiator printed on them. 

White House officials said the delay was not connected to Trump's Jerusalem decision.

Pence's decision to remain in Washington to see through Trump's tax overhaul comes despite indications on Monday that the Republicans would have enough votes in the Senate, where they have a 52-48 majority.

On Monday, two Senate Republican Holdouts agreed to back the new package.

"The tax vote is still in very good shape, but we don’t want to take any chances," a White House official said.