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Pence announces trip to Israel, the first since Trump said he would recognize Jerusalem as its capital

 (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Israel, Egypt and Jordan later this month, his office announced on Monday, rescheduling a trip postponed after President Trump’s controversial decision last month to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump’s Jerusalem decision, including plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, was warmly received among Jewish Israelis but caused a backlash in the region and stiff opposition from Palestinians, who consider East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state. For decades, U.S. policy held that Jerusalem’s status was a matter for Palestinians and Israelis to settle as part of a broad peace deal.

Pence was not able to travel to the Middle East in the immediate aftermath of the decision, in part because of protests there but also because Republicans thought Pence would be needed to break a tie vote in the Senate for their tax cut bill. The delay of the trip had raised doubts as to whether Pence would reschedule it.

The vice president plans to leave Jan. 19 for Egypt, where he will meet with President Abdel Fattah Sisi. He will then travel to Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah II. The longest portion of the trip, two days in Israel, includes meetings with Israeli leaders, remarks at the Knesset and a visit to the Western Wall and the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.

The announcement does not include any mention of Palestinians, who said after the Jerusalem decision that they would not meet with him. 

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