USA vice president postpones visit, but envoy still coming

Posted December 21, 2017

With pence Middle East trip delayed until January, Mike Pence could become the official envoy of President Trump bringing the sweeteners for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). "The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans", said Pence's spokesperson, Alyssa Farah, in a statement. Therefore, to get the most out of the trip, the Vice President will now be traveling in mid-January.

US Vice President Mike Pence has delayed a visit to the Middle East, the White House said on Monday, as a crunch tax vote on Capitol Hill looms and anger in the region over Washington's policy shift on Jerusalem persists.

Pence will instead travel to the Middle East during the week of January 14 so he can be in the Senate for Tuesday's expected tax vote.

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Trump said he had made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital to keep a campaign promise, noting that several of his predecessors had vowed to do so, but never did.

But White House officials said any delay in the tax vote might have prevented the vice president from departing Washington on time and complicated a tightly-orchestrated set of meetings in Egypt and Israel. John McCain, R-Ariz., was returning to his home state for cancer treatment, leaving Republicans with only 51 votes for the tax bill.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had originally meant to meet with Pence but pulled out of the meeting after denouncing Trump's decision.

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Officials denied that Pence's decision was motivated by a wave of deadly protests in the wake of Trump's controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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 United States vice president due to the decision. Abbas had originally planned to host Pence, a devout Christian, in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem.

"It has come to our attention that vice president Pence intends to make an official visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and asked me to receive him officially", Adeeb Jowdeh Al Husseini wrote in a letter, according to Israel's Channel 2.

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