VP Pence to land in Israel Sunday for 3-day visit

Vice President Mike Pence will be touching down in Israel Sunday for his first official visit to the country as President Donald Trump’s second-in-command. Despite the occasion, Pence’s visit will be very low-key, possibly due to his administration’s stained ties with the Palestinians and others in the region.

In fact, the vice president, considered a stalwart friend of Israel, will not be meeting any Palestinian officials due to their boycott of the Trump administration in the wake of the president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a statement propelled and encouraged by Pence.

Pence’s visit may be more attuned to reaping the political rewards of his support base—American Evangelicals and Jewish supporters of the Republican party. While Pence’s children did not join him, his wife Karen is accompanying him on his Middle Eastern tour.

In a speech to be given in the Knesset Monday afternoon, Pence is expected to express the Trump administration’s unassailable commitment to Israel’s security, but will also stress the need to promote peace with the Palestinians and painful concessions. Pence will also touch on the hot-button issue of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and will clarify it was not merely an empty promise but one the administration intended to stick to. Along those lines, the New York Times reported over the weekend that American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and a limited staff will begin operations in Jerusalem as early as next year. Pence’s Air Force 2 jet is expected to land at Ben Gurion Airport Sunday at 9:30pm. He will be greeted by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, but no state welcoming ceremony will be held at the airfield.

The following day Pence will be greeted at the Prime Minister’s Office with a reception ceremony, but one without any speeches or declarations. Pence will then take a working meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pence will be arriving to the Knesset Monday at 1:30pm and make the aforementioned speech before the parliament’s plenum at 2pm. He will then meet Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Later in the day, he will be arriving at the Prime Minister’s Residence for a gala dinner with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the pair’s wives. Netanyahu and Pence will then make joint statements. Then, Pence will convene with President Rueven Rivlin Tuesday morning. His wife Karen will be meeting the president’s wife Nechama separately. At 12pm Pence will visit Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and will place a wreath at the Yizkor memorial hall. The American vice president will then leave the museum for a private visit to the Kotel at 1:45pm, accompanied by Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch but no senior Israeli officials. Immediately following his visit, he and his entourage will make their way back to Ben Gurion and Air Force 2 to depart Israel.

Read More: Y Net