Pence postpones Mideast visit to mid-January citing tax vote


"The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line".

US officials requested Pence be allowed to speak near the site, according to Israeli media, but Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz turned them down, saying it wouldn't be appropriate at a religious site. He could provide a tie-breaking vote in the Senate if needed, though on Monday it looked like bill has enough votes among Senate Republicans to pass. But they can only afford to lose two votes. The United States vetoed a draft UN resolution rejecting Mr Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, after all 14 other Security Council members backed the measure. This was the Trump administration's first Security Council veto, and all 14 other members supported the resolution, underscoring the US isolation on the issue. Trump still plans to address the Israeli Knesset, a high-profile venue to discuss the Jerusalem decision where it is most popular.

Pence was expected to depart for Egypt on Tuesday night and meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday before traveling to Israel.

The move outraged Palestinians, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, canceled a meeting scheduled with Mr. Pence in protest.

Palestine's Hamas group on Sunday called for an official and popular rejection of US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the region on Wednesday, Anadolu reports.

US President Donald Trump speaks with the press at the White House
US President Donald Trump speaks with the press at the White House

On Thursday, White House announced that Pence would delay his trip by three days and shorten his itinerary.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the package today with the Senate vote to follow late today or early tomorrow.

With the Senate vote now expected late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, White House officials said Monday that Pence's trip could not be shortened or delayed any further, so they made a decision to postpone.

"We ran into time constraints to get it all done before Shabbat", the official said.