World Media

Pence delays Israel trip over GOP tax bill


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with Pence in protest of President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Haaretz reported that Pence's visit slated to begin on Sunday had been postponed indefinitely due to pressing tax reform issues in the U.S., while the Jerusalem Post reported that he would arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Trump and Republican lawmakers are hoping for a vote early next week on the delivery of a package of steep tax cuts for corporations and more modest cuts for families before Christmas.

White House officials said Pence now plans to leave for Egypt on Tuesday so he can preside over the Senate during a likely vote next week on the tax package.

But the vote in the Senate could be razor thin, with Republicans holding only a 52-48 majority, so Pence's vote could be needed.

Palestinian officials have also pressured local church leaders to not welcome Pence and follow the example of the Egyptian Coptic Church whose pope announced his refusal to meet with the USA vice president due to the decision. Republican Senator John McCain, who is fighting brain cancer, was in hospital on Wednesday. Farah said Pence will travel first to Egypt and then to Israel. Pence will arrive in Israel later Wednesday for a visit to the Western Wall.

The US vice president will however address the Knesset and meet the Israeli and Egyptian leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during the 5 day trip.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence participate in a signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive at the White House in Washington D.C. The reasons for the delay are still unclear, and the new schedule for the trip is yet to be released.

World and domestic events have intruded upon Pence's travel's before.

At the time, Trump had alarmed countries in the region by threatening military action, and Pence found himself trying to smooth over the president's remarks, saying the administration's preference was for "a peaceable solution".

His trip to the Middle East, in which he will also be visiting Egypt and the Palestinian authority, is partly meant to mend ties with Arab partners in the aftermath of the controversial declaration on Jerusalem.

Almost 2,000 miles from Washington, D.C., in Cartagena, Colombia, Pence was forced to respond to his boss's latest controversy, yet again thrusting him into the role of Trump's global translator.