Netanyahu orders reluctant Israeli ministers to greet Trump at airport

The ministers allegedly did not want to attend the event at the airport due to the long hours they would have to wait on the tarmac in the sun.

May 21, 2017 13:55
2 minute read.
Donald Trump Melania Trump

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One for his first international trip as president, including stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels and at the G7 summit in Sicily, from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US May 19, 2017. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The ministers allegedly did not want to attend the event at the airport due to the long hours they would have to wait on the tarmac in the sun.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered all Israeli government ministers Sunday to attend a reception ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport for US President Donald Trump when he arrives here on Monday.

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Netanyahu's order came after he stopped short a meeting of the heads of his governing coalition on Sunday, after most ministers refused to come to the airport. When Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Netanyahu they would not cancel previously scheduled work commitments, he angrily stopped the meeting.
Netanyahu: 'I'll talk security and peace with Trump' (credit: GPO)

The prime minister then ordered his chief of staff Yoav Horowitz to send ministers a new invitation with mandatory attendance. Cabinet secretary Tzahi Braverman earlier told Netanyahu that ministers did not want to attend the greeting event at the airport due to the long hours they would have to wait on the tarmac in the sun.

Other ministers told Braverman they did not feel the need to come, because Trump - unlike his predecessor Barack Obama - was not planning on shaking hands with the ministers at the airport. Obama even prepared notes for small talk with each minister as part of his so-called "charm offensive" for winning over Israelis when he arrived in March 2013.

Trump is scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday to spend around 28 hours of his nine-day foreign tour in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Arriving from Saudi Arabia at approximately 12:15 p.m., Trump will fly by helicopter from Ben-Gurion to Jerusalem where he is scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin at 1 p.m. at his official residence on Hanasi Street.

At 6 p.m., Trump is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the King David Hotel, where the US president is staying in the rocket-resistant Presidential Suite. The meeting will be followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. with the prime minister, his wife, Sara, and first lady Melania Trump at the prime minister’s official residence.

A separate dinner for Trump’s entourage and Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, will be held at the King David Hotel at 8 p.m.

Also on Monday, Trump will visit the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.

On Tuesday morning, the president is expected to travel to Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas where he will “urge Palestinian leaders to take productive steps toward peace,” according to the White House website.

While Palestinian officials have not released an official schedule, Trump is expected to meet with Abbas at the Bethlehem governor’s office and may visit the Church of the Nativity.

At 1 p.m., there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, and then Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Israel Museum at 2 p.m. “celebrating the unique history of Israel and of the Jewish people,” according to the White House website.

At 4 p.m., the US president will take off for the next leg of his journey, Italy and the Vatican.

Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.

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