Pence’s final visit to Israel before leaving office is canceled

US vice president was reportedly planning multi-day stop in Jewish state on trip abroad after validating Biden’s electoral victory

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

US Vice President Mike Pence visits Jerusalem's Western Wall on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
US Vice President Mike Pence visits Jerusalem's Western Wall on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

A planned visit to Israel by US Vice President Mike Pence was called off less than two weeks before he was due to arrive, the US Embassy confirmed Wednesday.

No reason was given for the cancellation, which was first reported by the Ynet news site.

Pence was reportedly scheduled to make a number of stops on a final world trip before leaving office on January 20. Earlier this month, Politico reported that the vice president planned to take off on January 6 — the same day the US Congress is scheduled to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory — visiting a number of countries, including Israel from January 10 to 13.

Though his stop in Israel was never officially confirmed by the US Embassy, the Israel Police and other Israeli authorities had begun preparations for the visit.

Earlier this month, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, confirmed the visit, saying, “Pence is planning on visiting Israel. I don’t want to commit to the dates. It’s likely that during the trip itself there will be a declaration of normalization” with another Muslim country.

A US Embassy spokesperson confirmed to The Times of Israel on Wednesday that the vice president would not be coming to Israel.

US Vice President Mike Pence (C) and his wife Karen Pence (L) view pictures of Jewish Holocaust victims at the Hall of Names during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Pool/Ronen Zvulun)

In its report, Politico said the trip abroad appeared to be an effort by Pence to avoid the ire of US President Donald Trump and his supporters over the vice president’s expected validation of the 2020 election results in his capacity as president of the US Senate. The president and his allies have claimed without basis that the election was stolen from him.

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” a Pence ally told Politico.

The news outlet cited a government document showing Pence was set to visit Bahrain, Israel and Poland, but said planning was tentative and that more destinations could be added.

Pence was last in Israel in January for the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, where visiting dignitaries gathered to remember the Nazi genocide of Jews during World War II and mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

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