Pence's Middle East visit in disarray due to meeting cancellation

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 18.12.2017 00:00

Once delayed, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Israel and Egypt as well as Jerusalem has been shattered by meeting cancellations due to President Donald Trump's Jerusalem decision.

The first cancellation came from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who was supposed to meet Pence in Bethlehem. Besides, the Church of the Nativity, which is the supposed birthplace of Jesus Christ, other Christian sites were also removed from his visit. The Muslim guardian that has the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, which is one of the most important places for the Christians, also refused to meet the vice president.

He will still meet Israeli politicians, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Reuven Rivlin.

In the Egypt part of his visit, Pence will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Yet, the Coptic Orthodox Pope well as al-Azhar, the country's highest Islamic body, cancelled their meetings with the vice president.

In addition to cancellations, there are also protests from Christian Palestinians, whom were, according to the Guardian, initially happy to welcome him, yet following the decision changed their position on his visit. The Fatah faction of President Abbas also called for protests against the visit on Saturday.

Pence is expected to arrive in Israel from Egypt on Wednesday, which is 3 days later than originally planned.

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