Pence Visit Was a Balm to Israelis. Now Back to Reality.

Vice President Mike Pence at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday.

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel positively basked in the glow of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit here, though it may yet turn out to be the halcyon days of a drawn-out, gloomy winter.

Sandwiched between Mr. Netanyahu’s trip to India, where he was treated like royalty, and his departure for the World Economic Forum in Davos, the visit burnished the Israeli premier’s credentials at home as an international player.

It also undercut domestic critics who had warned of a “diplomatic tsunami” because of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, and it diverted public attention, at least temporarily, from the corruption investigations against him.

Mr. Pence wrapped up his stay here on Tuesday with a silent reflection at the Western Wall, the sacred Jewish prayer site in the contested Old City, a day after thrilling much of the Israeli Parliament by announcing that a new United States Embassy would open in Jerusalem before the end of 2019.

The promise that President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month would be turned into bricks and mortar imbued the vice president’s visit with more than symbolic value. Reuven Rivlin, the mostly ceremonial president of Israel, praised Mr. Pence for backing the Trump administration’s words with action and called him a “mensch.” Before leaving for Davos, Mr. Netanyahu said Mr. Pence had given “exceptional expression to the powerful relationship between Israel and the United States.”

But Israeli analysts and political opponents noted that once the visit of Mr. Pence was over, it would be back to reality for Mr. Netanyahu in a less ethereal Jerusalem.

“The news cycle has become shorter and shorter,” said Gadi Wolfsfeld, a professor of political communications at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. “Today it’s Tuesday? By Sunday it will be a nonissue, if not before that. The overall impact on politics here will be next to zero, or zero.”

With the Israeli police expected to recommend charges against Mr. Netanyahu, possibly within weeks, Mr. Wolfsfeld said that the Pence visit was little more than a distraction and that it would end up “a footnote in history.”

Avi Gabbay, the leader of the center-left Labor Party, thanked Mr. Pence on Monday for his support of Israel.

“But we know that in another 24 hours he will not be here,” Mr. Gabbay added. “He will be on his way to his next destination and we — I will let you in on a little secret — remain here. We remain with 4.5 million Palestinians, and this visit does not change this fact, and this visit also does not change our obligation to solve this problem and not to roll it over to our children.”

Mr. Pence was the first United States vice president to address the Knesset, or parliament, and members of Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing government reached for superlatives to describe the event. Ayelet Shaked, the justice minister, thanked Mr. Pence on Twitter for what she called his “historic, unique” and “supremely Zionist” speech.

It was all in stark contrast to the discordant years of the Obama administration, when a 2010 visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ended in bitter recrimination. In an ill-timed move as Mr. Biden was pushing a peace agenda, Israel unveiled plans for 1,600 new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital.

Still, when Mr. Pence told the Israeli legislators that the Trump administration was committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and would support a two-state solution to the conflict if both sides agreed, Mr. Netanyahu, who jumped up for numerous standing ovations, did not applaud.

Neither did the Palestinians.

Enraged by Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, a move that overturned decades of American policy and defied international consensus on the holy city’s status, they boycotted Mr. Pence’s visit.

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority was in Brussels to meet with the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers on Monday. There, he said the only way to achieve peace was through negotiations under international supervision, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

Backtracking slightly on previous statements rejecting any American role in the peace process, Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, said on Tuesday that Mr. Abbas had ruled out any absolute American “monopoly” of the process. But he did suggest alternative sponsorship, such as the so-called Quartet of Middle East peacemakers made up of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

The Palestinians observed a general strike on Tuesday in protest against Mr. Pence’s visit, and there were minor clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at some familiar flash points.

Some Israeli commentators expressed a subtle wariness of Mr. Pence’s embrace, saying he was playing to his conservative base back home, which is highly supportive of Israel in keeping with evangelical end-of-days scenarios.

“After Pence leaves and Bibi takes off for Davos, the Arabs will still be here,” Ben Caspit, a political columnist, wrote on Tuesday in the Maariv newspaper, referring to Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname. “How unfortunate that we can’t replace all the Arabs with evangelicals, heralding the era of the Messiah. But it’s actually better that the Messiah not come, because then we’ll have to convert to Christianity.”

Mr. Pence, he wrote, was speaking to the Zionist evangelicals in America — “the kind that are hopelessly in love with us.”

“But that’s it,” he said. “Anyone who thinks that they are everywhere is wrong. Unfortunately, there are a few other people in the world.”

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