Pence’s Mideast trip still on as government shutdown looms

Vice President Mike Pence is producing his fourth visit to Israel, time for a region he’s visited “a mil times” in his heart.

An evangelical Alfredia with strong ties to the Ay Land, Pence this time comes packaging two key policy decisions in the bags that have long been top focal points for him: designating Jerusalem since Israel’s capital and curtailing help for Palestinians.

Pence departed as planned Friday evening as U. S i9000. lawmakers sought to avert analysis government shutdown at midnight. Alyssa Farah, a Pence spokeswoman, said the particular trip was “integral to Many national security and diplomatic objectives” and would go on as planned. Pence was set to depart Fri evening, and Air Force 2 was expected to land in Ireland in europe for a refueling stop early Sunday en route to Cairo.

Since his days within Congress a decade ago, Pence has performed a role in pushing both for that shift in U. S. plan related to the capital and for placing limitations on funding for Palestinian leads to long criticized by Israel.

Traveling to His home country of israel just as Palestinians have condemned current decisions by President Donald Trump’s administration, Pence will arrive in the location as a longtime stalwart supporter associated with Israel who has questioned the notion from the U. S. serving as an “honest broker” in the stalled peace procedure.

“The United States certainly wants to be sincere, but we don’t want to be an agent, ” Pence once told the particular Christian Broadcasting Network in 2010. “A broker doesn’t take sides. An agent negotiates between parties of equates to. ”

The vice president will hold 4 days of meetings in Egypt, Michael jordan and Israel during his check out, the first to the region by a senior management official since Trump announced programs in December to designate Jerusalem because Israel’s capital and begin the process of relocating the U. S. embassy through Tel Aviv, angering Palestinian commanders.

Their trip will also follow Tuesday’s statement that the U. S. is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to the Oughout. N. Relief and Works Company, which provides health care, education and interpersonal services to Palestinians in the West Financial institution, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria plus Lebanon.

Both decisions have come as Trump has expressed frustration over a insufficient progress in restarting peace discussions between Israel and the Palestinians, who seem to withdrew plans to meet with Pence during his visit to the Middle Eastern.

Older White House officials said protection issues, countering terrorism and attempts to push back against Iran might figure prominently during Pence’s journey, which concludes on Tuesday. However the vice president also is expected to encounter questions about Israel’s future.

On the charge, Pence played a steady role within pushing for the shift in Oughout. S. policy. The decision upended previous U. S. views that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in discussions between Israel and the Palestinians, who have claim east Jerusalem as the funds of their future state.

Pence had desired the Trump administration to convey “a clear-cut policy” on Jerusalem following the president asked him last summertime to visit the Middle East, White Home officials have said.

Pence discussed the matter with Jewish and evangelical frontrunners in the months leading up to the decision plus advocated for the plan within the management. But he noted to spiritual leaders late last year that the choice was the president’s alone and might fulfill a commitment from the 2016 marketing campaign.

Pence has long aligned himself along with Israel.

In Congress, he pushed just for limiting U. S. aid towards the Palestinian Authority during the presidency associated with George W. Bush, warning the particular funding could be redirected to organizations like the militant Hamas movement, which usually controls Gaza.

He was a vocal counsel for Israel’s security fence plus co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy plus Recognition Act in 2011 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. Experienced House members recall Pence’s part as a staunch ally of Israeli causes and his steadfast support meant for moving the embassy to Jerusalem at times when few were talking about the problem.

Since Indiana’s governor, Pence signed legislation requiring the state to divest through any business that engaged in the particular Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Motion — a grassroots international boycott movement against Israel.

Kenneth Weinstein, TOP DOG of the Hudson Institute, a conventional think tank, said it has been “central to his political life in the absolute outset, from when this individual first ran for Congress — it’s something that’s central in order to who he is, to what he thinks in. ”

Pence traveled to His home country of israel for the first time as an Indiana congressman within January 2004, joining a abordnung from the Jewish Federation of Higher Indianapolis. He placed a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Funeral and visited the Western Wall structure, both of which are on Pence’s schedule again next week, and he had a personal meeting with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Doug Rose, a philanthropist within Indianapolis, flew with Pence in the 2004 trip to Israel and remembered him being deeply affected by the knowledge. “How could you not be moved? inch Rose said of their site trips.

Pence told the Indiana Jewish Posting and Opinion after his 2005 trip that he was often inquired if he had been to Israel just before, “and my response was, ‘Only in my dreams. ‘ I was elevated an evangelical Christian and attempted to read the Bible every day, so inside my mind and in my heart I have already been there a million times. ”

Trump’s choice on Jerusalem has drawn protests from Middle Eastern leaders plus prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pull out of a planned ending up in Pence in the biblical West Financial institution town of Bethlehem. Administration authorities said Pence is not expected to discuss with Palestinian leaders during the trip.

Pence continues to be popular with evangelical voters in the Oughout. S., a large and influential constituency that helped propel Trump in order to victory in last year’s political election. American evangelicals, especially the elderly, have a strong affinity for His home country of israel, drawn both on spiritual coffee grounds and a genuine love for the modern-day country and the Jewish people.

“From our own very first meeting, I knew it was a man deeply committed to standing along with Israel, ” said the Revolution. John Hagee, founder and chief of Christians United for His home country of israel, whose organization helped pay for some of Pence’s trip to Israel along with family members in 2014.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the U. S. -born creator and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the charity that raises tens of huge amount of money for Israeli causes from United states evangelicals, said Pence’s upcoming check out should go over well with evangelicals and help shore up their particular support for the Trump administration.

“He’s action of evangelicalism and evangelical emotions for Israel, and its history, inch Eckstein said. “Trump doesn’t have that will history. Pence has that good being pro-Israel. ”


Associated Press article writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem added to this report.


This story has been fixed to say this is Pence’s fourth visit to Israel. A previous version of the story described the trip to His home country of israel as Pence’s fifth, based on details provided by the administration.