Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

Pence delays Israel visit

PM Netanyahu meets Vice President Mike Pence in Washington in February. Pence delays Israel visit

US Vice President Mike Pence is now scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, three days later than originally planned so that he can be in the US to participate if necessary in Senate votes on tax reform.

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.

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According to the officials, Pence slightly delayed his scheduled Middle East tour as he is preparing to chair a senate session to attempt to break the tie on new major tax cuts next week. Farah said Pence will travel first to Egypt and then to Israel.

President Donald Trump's administration invited nearly universal condemnation earlier this month when it officially recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, effectively ignoring Palestinian claims on the city. At a summit in Turkey on Wednesday, Arab and Muslim leaders "rejected and condemned" Trump's decision and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suggested he might not cooperate with White House efforts to forge a Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

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Pence will now leave some time on Tuesday on a trip that will begin with a visit to Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the official said.

On Thursday morning, he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office.

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White House officials said Pence will end his visit to Israel on Friday by meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

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