Pence visit to Israel in January is on, his office says


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A planned trip to Israel by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is on for January, his office said, despite reports to the contrary.

Pence did not appear on an Israeli Foreign Ministry list of foreign officials scheduled to arrive in the country this month that was released on Monday, the Times of Israel first reported.

The English-language Israeli news website confirmed with the ministry that “due to various scheduling difficulties,” no new date had yet been set for the vice president’s visit, that had been delayed from last month to mid-January. The ministry later told the website that  it “never said he isn’t coming.”

In response to a query, Pence’s office told JTA the January visit is “on.”

“As we’ve said, Vice President Pence is traveling to Israel later this month,” spokesman Jarrod Agen told JTA in an email. “Reports of a postponement are just plain wrong.”

Pence originally postponed a planned mid-December visit to Israel so he could preside over the vote on a tax overhaul favored by Trump. It was believed that Pence might have been needed to cast the deciding vote in the closely divided Senate.

A White House official at the time said that Pence would visit in mid-January instead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to leave on a five-day trip to India on January 14.

The trip was originally meant to encompass Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Egypt but was modified because Palestinian leaders refuse to meet with Pence in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pence had been scheduled to address the Knesset and to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

The reform of the U.S. tax code passed on Dec. 20.

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