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Pence's office says VP still plans to visit Israel

Mike Pence's office on Monday said the U.S. vice president still plans on visiting Israel this month, despite an apparent delay in the schedule.

Pence had been scheduled to come during the week of Jan. 14. But Israel's Foreign Ministry said Monday that the visit was no longer on its schedule for January.

"The visit is not included in our provision of scheduled visits of high-level dignitaries in January," said ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

He gave no reason for the apparent delay, but said it was still possible that Pence could decide to come.

Later Monday, Pence's deputy chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, said the visit was still on. "As we said, we are going later this month," he said, without providing specific dates.

Pence had been scheduled to visit Israel last month but called off the trip at late notice and said he would come instead in January.

The official reason for the delay was the Senate tax vote. Late last month, Pence's press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement following the postponement that the Vice President was "committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line" and that he "looked forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January."

But the delay also followed region-wide uproar over President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, canceled a planned pre-Christmas meeting with Pence in the biblical town of Bethlehem to protest Trump's decision.

Leading Muslim and Christian clerics in neighboring Egypt also said they would refuse to meet with Pence during a planned stop in Cairo.