United States Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen arrived Sunday evening to a warm welcome at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The vice president and his wife were greeted on the tarmac by Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.
“I welcome you to Israel, and thank you for the important role you played in the president’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Levin said. “We very much appreciate the strong friendship between our two countries, and we are sure that you and your wife Karen will feel at home here.”
Eastbound Highway 1 was closed to traffic from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as was Southbound Highway 6, from the Ben Shemen Interchange, due to the arrival of the vice president.
The vice president traveled from the airport straight to Jerusalem, where he will begin his day bright and early first thing Monday morning with a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Pence is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two men are expected to discuss U.S. efforts to block Iran’s nuclear program as well as its aggression in the region and ways to “advance security and peace.”
In his opening remarks at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu expressed his outrage and disgust over plans by the Joint Arab List faction to boycott the Vice President’s address to the Knesset.
“I view it as a disgrace that MKs intend to boycott this important visit to the Knesset and are even seeking to disrupt it. We will all be there and will show Vice President Pence the great respect that he is due,” Netanyahu said. He added that he and Pence would discuss “Trump’s efforts to curb Iranian aggression and the Iranian nuclear program,” as well talk about peace and security.
“Those who truly aspire to these goals know that there is no substitute for the leadership of the United States,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu will accompany Pence to the Knesset, where the vice president will also meet with Speaker Yuli Edelstein as well. The prime minister and his wife will host Pence and his wife Karen for dinner on Monday evening.
The vice president has another full day scheduled for Tuesday, his final day in the Jewish State, beginning with talks with President Reuven Rivlin at the official resident in Jerusalem.
At midday Pence is scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum. His final stop of the day may be his most meaningful – certainly, his most controversial in the region – a visit to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he will be greeted by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. Pence will travel to Ben Gurion International Airport to return to Washington DC following his visit to the Wall.
Earlier this year U.S. President Donald Trump was the first sitting American president in history to visit the Western Wall. Likewise, Pence will become the first sitting American vice president to do the same.
Because the site is located in the section of the city restored to the capital during the 1967 Six Day War, the international community considers the location to be a “disputed area” despite the fact that Jews were residents of the area long before Jordan conquered and occupied the site from 1948 to 1967.
Nevertheless, for more than half a century, the Old City of Jerusalem as well as other sections of the city have been part of Israel’s capital, and have been restored and developed with the same care and attention to detail as the rest of the city.