US VP Mike Pence once again delays Middle East visit

US VP Mike Pence once again delays Middle East visit

US VP Mike Pence once again delays Middle East visit

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is postponing his trip to Egypt and Israel this week in order to stay in Washington for a congressional vote on President Donald Trump's tax overhaul plan, White House officials said on Monday. An assessment is growing within the Israeli security establishment that Palestinian terrorist organizations will attempt to further escalate this rocket fire during US Vice President Mike Pence's scheduled visit to Israel this week.

The trip to Egypt and Israel, due to begin Tuesday, has been pushed back to mid-January, allowing Pence to remain in Washington in case he needs to cast the deciding vote in the Senate over President Donald Trump's tax reforms. Last week, Israeli media reported that the custodian of one of the holiest sites in Christianity had refused to welcome Mr Pence to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal capital, while Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

"The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line", said Alyssa Farah, Pence's press secretary, in a statement.

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Breaking with decades of United States policy, Trump also said on December 6 that he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier this month Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Pence on his trip due to this announcement. Abbas' diplomatic adviser, Majdi Khaldi, said Abbas would not meet with Pence "because the USA has crossed red lines" with its decision on Jerusalem. The Republicans' already thin margin in the Senate became even more precarious when McCain, who is battling brain cancer, was hospitalized for side effects of his treatment. While they have not yet rescheduled his meetings, officials said that they hope the vice president will be able to keep all of his original appointments and perhaps visit additional countries in the region.

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

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