Pence Israel Visit Postponed Yet Again


US Vice President Mike Pence has postponed his trip to Israel and Egypt in order to participate in the ongoing tax legislation.

The trip to Egypt and Israel, due to begin on Tuesday, has been pushed back to mid-January, allowing Pence to remain in Washington in case he needs to break a tie vote in the Senate over President Donald Trump's tax reforms.

"The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President [Donald] Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans", Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Pence's office said in a statement.

She added that Pence "looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January".

Mr Pence's original itinerary when the trip was planned last month was to meet Christian and Muslim leaders in the region.

Then Trump announced on December 6 that his administration had made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, breaking with decades of USA policy and drawing sharp criticism from allies and adversaries.

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But just a few hours ahead of departure, the White House announced that the Vice President would no longer be travelling to the Middle East at this time.

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. The administration also announced plans to eventually move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. John McCain, R-Ariz., was returning to his home state for cancer treatment, leaving Republicans with only 51 votes for the tax bill.

The move outraged Palestinians, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, canceled a meeting scheduled with Pence in protest.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah faction had called for a massive demonstration to coincide with Pence's visit and ruled out meeting him in Ramallah or Bethlehem.

Palestinian officials have pressured local church leaders to reject Pence's visit and follow the example of the Egyptian Coptic Church whose pope has refused to meet the U.S. vice president due to the decision. 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.