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

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

United State Vice President Mike Pence has postponed his controversial visit to the Middle East planned for this week but USA special peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is still coming, a White House official said on Monday.

US Vice President Mike Pence has postponed his visit to the Middle East to mid-January, announced the White House on Monday. Pence is postponing his trip to Egypt and Israel until the middle of January, citing an upcoming vote in the Senate to overhaul the nation's tax system.

Senator John McCain's return home to Arizona to fight cancer has left Republicans with a razor-thin margin to push the legislation over the finishing line.

"This is all about the largest tax cut in American history and having the vice president and the full team here", the official said.

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

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

Officials denied that Pence's decision was motivated by a wave of deadly protests in the wake of Trump's controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital. However, Pence's office confirmed on Monday that his visit would be pushed back again until January 2018, Politico reported.

The announcement from Pence's office came on the same day the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution that would have rejected "decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem".

Following the cancellation of the visit to the center of Egypt's Christian faith, the vice president's press secretary, Alyssa Farah, has dropped any mention of faith outreach, referring only to meetings with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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 United States embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. While they have not yet rescheduled his meetings, officials said that they hope the vice president will be able to keep all of his original appointments and perhaps visit additional countries in the region.



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