VP Pence Slated to Visit Israel Ahead of Biden Inauguration

YERUSHALAYIM -
Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Yerushalayim in 2018. (Reuters/Ariel Schalit/Pool)

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien are expected to arrive in Israel within the coming weeks, according to multiple sources quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

O’Brien is likely to arrive first, with reports that he will be in Israel next week, while Pence is likely to arrive in early Jaunary, before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

These visitors follow Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tour of several nations in the Middle East, including Israel. His arrival was significant as it heralded a shift in certain long-standing U.S. policy positions – most notably allowing Israeli products made in Yehudah and Shomron to be labeled “Made in Israel.”

That followed a State Department directive, which said it would withdraw support from any entity supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Some commentators speculated that as the Trump administration likely wound down, it would seek to upset the incoming Biden administration with a raft of pro-Israel policies.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper denied that this was the case, as well as remarking that the alliance with Israel was a bipartisan issue.

Pompeo’s visit was also seen as a telegraph of his intentions with a view to a possible tilt at the Republican nomination for the 2024 Presidential Election, which may also apply to Pence.

Pompeo and Pence have been staunch supporters of Israel and much Israeli policy. There is, however, some alarm in the Prime Minister’s Office about the incoming administration particularly due to Biden’s determination to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and appoint many former Obama administration figures who were instrumental in its passage.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been clear about his opposition to a return to the Iran deal saying that it “paved the way” for Iran to launch proxy wars throughout the Middle East and develop nuclear weapons.