Pence heads to Mideast trip

28 2017 shows Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar delivering a speech during the visit of Pope Francis to the prestigious Sunni institution in Cairo

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum after he delivered a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017 as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on.

He is telling the soldiers to "stay focused on your mission".

Arab Israeli lawmakers will boycott Mike Pence's speech to the Knesset, with the head of a coalition of Arab parties saying Saturday that the United States vice president is "dangerous" and has a "messianic vision" that threatens the region.

The White House says Pence will continue his trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel despite the lapse in federal funding, because it is "integral" to USA national security and diplomacy.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also invoked national defense while blasting Democrats over the shutdown, which officially started Friday night at midnight.

The U.S. vice president's three-day trip to Israel includes meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, as well as a visit to the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site in East Jerusalem.

Benjamin Netanyahu noticeably didn't applaud a key part of Mike Pence's big speech to Israel's parliament
Pence heads to Mideast trip

President Trump has scrapped plans to travel to his Florida resort amid the threat of a shutdown.

Congress must act by midnight Friday or the shutdown will take effect, forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job.

Vice President Mike Pence is making his fourth visit to Israel, returning to a region he's visited "a million times" in his heart.

Last December, Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which received worldwide criticism and sparked renewed violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing so far at least 13 Palestinians and an Israeli.

Initially set for late December, Pence's trip was pushed back as the region reeled from deadly protests triggered by President Donald Trump's controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital - in a break with decades of U.S. policy.

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