Israel hosted a 70th anniversary celebration on Monday night… but at least one high-profile guest had other plans. President Donald Trump instead spent the night at the hospital with First Lady Melania Trump, who is undergoing kidney surgery.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, told the packed event at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in D.C. that the President had wanted to attend, but chose to be with his wife instead. He was replace by Vice President Mike Pence.
“The President asked me to be here tonight because, as you all no doubt are aware, earlier today the First Lady underwent a long-planned medical procedure,” said Pence. “I’m pleased to report the procedure as a success and Melania is already on the mend.”
Pence said he spoke for “people everywhere when I say that Mrs. Trump is in our hearts. We pray for her speedy and full recovery, and he look forward to her returning to her work making a difference in the lives of our nation’s children.”
“Get well soon, Melania,” he added.
Monday was an important day for U.S.-Israel policy. Last December, Trump issued a declaration that recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—an on Monday, the new U.S. Embassy opened in the historic city.
Though the U.S. Senate had voted repeatedly for decades—as recently as 2017—to move the embassy to Jerusalem, U.S. Presidents had continued to “postpone” the move date, until President Trump finally made it official.