US Vice President Mike Pence began a visit to Israel on Sunday after being praised as a “great friend” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and days after he began his Middle East tour.
Pence was welcomed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport by Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and US Envoy to Israel David Friedman and made no statement to reporters before travelling to Jerusalem.
It is the highest-level US visit to the region since President Donald Trump made his Jerusalem declaration on December 6 and promised to begin the process of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.
The Vice President, who was originally slated to visit Israel on December 18th, had planned to meet with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Following Trump Jerusalem resolution, the PA announced that Pence, as a senior figure in the Trump administration, was persona non-grata in the PA.
Pence flew into Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport from Jordan on a US military plane after visiting US troops on the Syrian border.
Netanyahu, addressing his cabinet earlier on Sunday, described Pence as a “great friend of the State of Israel” and said they would discuss US efforts “to halt Iran’s aggression, the Iranian nuclear programme, and ways to advance peace and security in the region.”
“Anyone who truly wants to fulfill those goals knows there is no substitute to the United States’ leadership,” Netanyahu said.
Earlier on Sunday, Arab Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, who loves to hate Israel despite being elected to the Knesset, described Pence as “one of the most extreme and delusional people in the American administration.”
Members of the Arab Joint List announced that they would boycott Pence’s addressed to the Knesset.