Key International Item on Pence's Agenda Mysteriously Vanishes.
Vice President Mike Pence's planned trip to Israel appears to have been postponed yet again, with the Israeli Foreign Ministry saying Tuesday that "it's not on our schedule."
Pence's deputy chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, had told The Associated Press on Monday that the vice president will be "going later this month," but didn't provide specific dates.
However, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon later said that while the schedule could still change, no date had been confirmed for the visit.
Pence was originally scheduled to travel the week of Dec. 17, but the trip was then pushed to the week of Jan. 14 to enable him to be on hand for the Senate’s vote on tax reform.
President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Dec. 6, and said at the time that Pence would visit to "reaffirm our commitment" to America's "partners throughout the Middle East." The move upended decades of U.S. policy, sparked uproar among world leaders and triggered accusations that it jeopardized the prospects of Middle East peace.
Palestinians have sought East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.
Following Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, Palestinian leaders said they would refuse to meet with Pence. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement also called for protests.
Demonstrations followed and militants in Gaza have fired 18 rockets at Israel since Trump’s move, according to the Israeli Defense Forces. Some protesters have burned images of Pence.
Coming on the heels of Trump's announcement, a Pence trip is likely to stoke additional Palestinian anger, analysts told NBC News.
“Most Palestinians think that he’s coming to Israel to provoke the Palestinians — and the entire Muslim world which views Jerusalem as a holy place,” independent Palestinian analyst and researcher Naief Abo Sharkeia said before the trip was initially delayed. “The Americans know the Palestinian and Arab world feels this way, so why send a senior U.S. official now?”
Pence's deputy chief of staff said that when the trip is rescheduled the vice president will still go to Egypt, where he was previously scheduled to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Pence's earlier itinerary included a speech to the Israeli Parliament as well as a visit the Western Wall, which is in the city’s sensitive eastern sector.