JERUSALEM: US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Israel on Sunday for a visit that will see him warmly welcomed by Israeli leaders but snubbed by the Palestinians, deeply angered by the White House’s Jerusalem policy.
The visit, initially scheduled for December before being postponed, is the final leg of a trip that has included talks in Egypt and Jordan as well as a stop at a US military facility near the Syrian border.
Controversy back home over a budget dispute that has led to a US government shutdown has trailed Pence, and he sought to blame Democrats for the impasse during a speech to troops at the military facility on Sunday.
Arab outrage over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec 6 had prompted the cancellation of several planned meetings ahead of Pence’s tour.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is refusing to meet Pence because of the declaration, making his visit a rare one by a high-ranking US official not to include talks with the Palestinians.
He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday before addressing the country’s parliament later in the day — a speech that Israeli Arab lawmakers will boycott, calling Pence “dangerous and messianic”.
On Tuesday, the devout Christian will visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the site when he travelled to Jerusalem in May 2017.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2018