Pence arrives in Israel

Jerusalem: United States Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Israel, the last leg of his delayed Middle East tour, overshadowed by Arab anger over Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pence was welcomed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport by Israel’s tourism minister, reported the Guardian.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while addressing his cabinet earlier on Sunday, described Pence as a “great friend of the State of Israel.”

The US vice president arrived in Tel Aviv after brief stops in Cairo and Amman. In both Arab capitals, Pence received criticism regarding Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Pence made no statement on arrival in Israel.

It is the highest-level US visit to the region since Trump made his unilateral declaration on Dec 6 and promised to begin the process of moving the American embassy to the city.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling Trump’s declaration a “slap in the face’, has rejected Washington as an honest broker in any future talks with Israel. Abbas left for an overseas visit before Pence arrived, according to the reports.

His trip initially was scheduled to take place in December but was delayed apparently so that Pence could oversee a US congressional vote on tax reform.