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Pence postpones trip to Mideast, citing vote on tax bill


Pence's visit was supposed to begin on Tuesday night, with a stop for a meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, followed by a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a visit to the Western Wall, and a speech at the Knesset. On Monday, the United States, using its veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, blocked a council resolution demanding that the Trump administration rescind its decision.

But after Trump's decision earlier this month on Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority declined the meeting. The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line.

Pence's office said Monday the trip was being delayed so he can stay in Washington until votes on the tax-cut legislation are completed.

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 itinerary had already seen several cancellations following Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but the White House attributed the rescheduling for domestic reasons. The two religious leaders also declined to meet with Pence.


The change of plans comes days after Palestinian officials cancelled their meeting with Pence in the West Bank following Trump's decision last week to move the USA embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

On Thursday, White House announced that Pence would delay his trip by three days and shorten his itinerary.

"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. McCain has since flown home to Arizona to spend holidays with family, and is expected to miss the tax vote.

Senior White House officials said the uncertainty of the timing of the Senate vote could have pushed back Pence's schedule in Egypt and Israel, and the vice president felt it was important to be in the Senate in case he was needed to break a tie vote. "We'll obviously still go to Egypt and Israel, but we may add additional countries", the official said.

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