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Pence Moves Visit Date a 2nd Time, Hoping to Be Hosted in Bethlehem

Pence Moves Visit Date a 2nd Time, Hoping to Be Hosted in Bethlehem

Wednesday, 3 January, 2018 - 12:45
Mike Pence speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, US July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Israeli political sources blamed US Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to postpone his scheduled visit to the Middle East, which starts in Egypt and ends in Israel, mid-this month, mainly to Palestinians refusing to host him and rejecting US mediation in negotiations to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Palestinians took a definitive stance against US mediation following the United States showing bias and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

These sources said that Pence shifting the visit’s time for the second time in the past two weeks confirms that the Americans still hope "the Palestinians change their position and receive him in Bethlehem, with the aim towards resolving the differences arising from the promise US President Trump made and to examine the possibility of resuming negotiations."

Initially, the visit was scheduled for December 20, and was postponed until further notice.

The White House then announced that the postponement is so that Pence could stay in Washington until the vote on the "tax cuts" bill was finished.

Later on, the White House confirmed that the visit would take place on January 14, however the list of officials expected to arrive in the country this month in Tel Aviv, did not include Pence.

Israeli authorities said "Pence's visit to Israel, which was scheduled for mid-January, did not show up on the list of foreign officials visiting Israel during this month due to a number of difficulties regarding the overall agenda”.

Although the White House made it clear that the vice president plans to arrive in Israel at the end of this month, Israeli sources have questioned it actually taking place, asserting that PM Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit India, Munich and Davos by the end of January.

Pence’s visit will be the first of a senior US official to Israel since Trump announced on December 6 Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

If received by the Palestinians, it will be the first public meetings between them and US officials after the announcement.

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