Pence visit indefinitely postponed due to ‘scheduling conflicts’
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Pence visit indefinitely postponed due to ‘scheduling conflicts’

Trip delayed by US tax vote had originally been rescheduled for January 14, the day Netanyahu takes off for India

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Palestinians burn Israeli flags next to a poster bearing images of US President Donald Trump (R), US Vice President Mike Pence (C), and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a demonstration at the al-Quds Open University in Dura, a village on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron, on December 13, 2017.(AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)
Palestinians burn Israeli flags next to a poster bearing images of US President Donald Trump (R), US Vice President Mike Pence (C), and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a demonstration at the al-Quds Open University in Dura, a village on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron, on December 13, 2017.(AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)

US Vice President Mike Pence’s planned trip to Israel has been indefinitely delayed beyond January, Foreign Ministry officials said Monday.

Pence was originally scheduled to arrive in the region in late December, but postponed the trip due to the US administration’s efforts to push a tax reform through Congress.

It had also been speculated that the vice president canceled his trip due to the fact that Palestinian officials and leading Muslim and Christian clerics no longer wanted to receive him in protest of US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry published its list of foreign dignitaries due in Israel this month. Pence’s name does not appear on this list.

Asked to clarify, Israeli officials said that “due to various scheduling difficulties,” no new date has yet been set for the vice president’s visit.

When the trip was rescheduled, administration officials had said Pence would visit January 14, coinciding with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s departure from Israel on a previously scheduled five-day trip to India.

Scott Pruitt, the current administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, is due in Israel in late January.

Pence was originally due in Israel on December 20 after a trip to Egypt, following closely on the heels of Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

He had been slated to hold meetings with Netanyahu and deliver an address to the Knesset. He was to end his trip to Israel with a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin and a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Palestinians burn the picture of the US Vice President Mike Pence during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, December 17, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

In Ramallah, he was to sit down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas later pulled out of the meeting after denouncing Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.

The White House at the time said that 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.

“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. She said Pence “looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January.”

On December 20, the sweeping reform of the US tax code passed a major hurdle on its way to final ratification by Congress.

A day later, Pence made a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

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