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US Vice President postpones trip to Middle East until January


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).

"We have some senators who obviously can't make it there for the vote and the vice president feels that it's important for him to be here for the largest tax cut in history", the official said.

The schedule shift follows President Donald Trump's December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital that prompted Palestinian officials and leading Muslim and Christian clerics in Egypt to refuse to meet with Pence, forcing him to adjust his schedule.

Pence could be expected to cast the tie-breaking vote on the tax plan in the Senate, but that now seems unlikely as Republicans say they now have the votes to pass the reform.

Trump said he had chose to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital to keep a campaign promise, noting that several of his predecessors had vowed to do so, but never did. However, Pence's office confirmed on Monday that his visit would be pushed back again until January 2018, Politico reported.




But just a few hours ahead of departure, the White House announced that the Vice President would no longer be travelling to the Middle East at this time.

"The tax vote is still in very good shape, but we don't want to take any chances whatsoever", the official said.

Aside from the protests, Palestinian, Muslim and Coptic leaders had cancelled meetings with the vice president, who had already trimmed the trip by three days. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision".

Pence's planned tour included a visit to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, followed by a visit to Israel, where the vice president was set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Abbas had originally planned to host Pence, a devout Christian, in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem. In doing so, senior officials said the protests were not a factor and that the vice president needed to stay in Washington until the tax vote was completed.

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