Mike Pence delays Egypt, Israel trip 'over tax reform vote'

Dec 21, 2017, 01:00
Mike Pence delays Egypt, Israel trip 'over tax reform vote'

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

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday postponed his trip to Egypt and Israel until mid-January, citing the need to preside over the Senate on a sweeping tax overhaul.

The decision also came amid mounting tension in the region over President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 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. "The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans", said Pence's spokesperson, Alyssa Farah, in a statement.

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The vice president has attracted such a negative response to the embassy move, which was announced December 6, that Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that Pence would no longer be meeting with Christian leadership of any kind while in Israel or Egypt.

Pence was expected to travel to Egypt on Wednesday to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi before travelling to Israel. His office announced the delay on Monday.

The change of plans comes days after Palestinian officials cancelled their meeting with Pence in the West Bank following Trump's decision last week to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision".

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had originally meant to meet with Pence but pulled out of the meeting after denouncing Trump's decision.

But White House officials said 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 new date for the trip is January 14th, according to CNN.

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Egypt's Coptic Church cancelled a meeting between Mr Pence and Pope Tawadros II following the Jerusalem announcement. 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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