US Vice President Mike Pence is expected to take off from the country on January 6 for an international trip that will bring him to Israel, on the same day Congress meets to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, a new report said Thursday.
Quoting three US officials, Politico reported that Pence is planning to leave Washington that day for a week-long trip, after presiding over the congressional session to affirm Biden’s win in the Electoral College.
Traveling abroad then could help Pence dodge the expected fury of US President Donald Trump and his supporters, who 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. The order in which Pence will visit the countries was not specified.
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.
Army Radio had reported on Pence’s visit Sunday, saying it would take place on January 13. 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.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem wouldn’t comment on Pence’s reported travel plans.
The reports on Pence’s trip came after Trump announced last week that Morocco was normalizing ties with Israel, making it the fourth Arab country since August to do so as part of a US-brokered agreement — following the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
As part of the announcement, Trump announced the US would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region, a longtime goal of the North African kingdom.