Sunday, September 24, 2023

At the end of December 2020, then-Vice President Mike Pence canceled a planned trip to Israel and other countries.
A planned visit to Israel by US Vice President Mike Pence was called off less than two weeks before he was due to arrive, the US Embassy confirmed Wednesday.

No reason was given for the cancellation, which was first reported by the Ynet news site.

Pence was reportedly scheduled to make a number of stops on a final world trip before leaving office on January 20. Earlier this month, Politico reported that the vice president planned to take off on January 6 — the same day the US Congress is scheduled to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory — visiting a number of countries, including Israel from January 10 to 13.

Though his stop in Israel was never officially confirmed by the US Embassy, the Israel Police and other Israeli authorities had begun preparations for the visit.

Earlier this month, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, confirmed the visit, saying, “Pence is planning on visiting Israel. I don’t want to commit to the dates. It’s likely that during the trip itself there will be a declaration of normalization” with another Muslim country.

A US Embassy spokesperson confirmed to The Times of Israel on Wednesday that the vice president would not be coming to Israel.

In its report, Politico said the trip abroad appeared to be an effort by Pence to avoid the ire of US President Donald Trump and his supporters over the vice president’s expected validation of the 2020 election results in his capacity as president of the US Senate. The president and his allies have claimed without basis that the election was stolen from him.

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” a Pence ally told Politico.

The news outlet cited a government document showing Pence was set to visit Bahrain, Israel and Poland, but said planning was tentative and that more destinations could be added.

Why was the trip cancelled at the last minute?

According to Pence's book "So Help Me God,"

 I also had plans to travel to Israel and the Middle East right after the proceedings on January 6, but on that the president said, “I don’t think you should go... more important to have you here.”

That's all I can find on the reasons - an offhand comment from Trump around the 28th or 29th of December.

That comment was expensive.

Records from the US Embassy in Jerusalem show that the cancellation was not cheap: hotel cancellation fees were over $360,000 and transportation cancellation fees were $180,000.  

This seems to indicate a large entourage, but I don't know if that is unusual for a vice presidential trip.

It seems unlikely that there was a plan to declare a new Abraham Accords signatory in that time period, although there were lots of rumors that something like that would happen in the last days of the Trump administration. It seems that this is just another small data point in the disorganized final days of the Trump administration. 

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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