Pence to visit Middle East despite shutdown threat

U.S. Vice President to head to the Middle East despite the threat of a federal government shutdown looming over Washington.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Mike Pence
Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will still head to the Middle East late Friday, despite the threat of a federal government shutdown looming over Washington, his spokeswoman clarified, according to AFP.

"The vice president's meetings with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel are integral to America's national security and diplomatic objectives," his press secretary Alyssa Farah told the news agency.

"The vice president will travel to the Middle East as scheduled," she stressed.

A U.S. official said the decision would not be changed no matter what happens Friday on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats must reach a deal before midnight to avoid a partial shutdown of federal government services.

Pence’s trip was initially set for late December and was already pushed back once due to votes on President Donald Trump’s tax reforms.

Pence will arrive in Cairo on January 20 for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, heading the following day to Amman for a one-on-one with King Abdullah II.

His trip will conclude on January 22-23 with a two-day visit to Israel, where he will meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, deliver a speech to the Knesset, visit the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

It does not appear that he will meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, as they had warned that Pence would be “unwelcome”, and that Abbas would refuse to meet with him, following Trump’s historic December 6 declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israeli-Arab Knesset Members also pledged to boycott Pence’s Knesset address over American recognition of Jerusalem.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)