US cancels festive King David dinner with Israelis

Find out why plans for the Jerusalem meal are now off the table.

May 21, 2017 14:30
1 minute read.
Donald Trump Israel Jerusalem

Israeli and US flags flutter atop the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, in preparation for US President Donald Trump’s arrival. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

At the last minute, the United States canceled — for logistical reasons — a festive dinner in Jerusalem at the King David Hotel scheduled for Monday night between Israeli and American officials.

The delegations were set to be headed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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The more private dinner between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump along with their wives, Sara and Melania, will still be held as scheduled.

Netanyahu and Trump will also hold a working meeting at the King David prior to the dinner.

News of the dinner’s cancellation are the latest in a series of mishaps before Trump’s arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday, after a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.
Israel prepares for Trump visit (credit: REUTERS)

The US president’s trip to Masada was cancelled last week because landing a helicopter on top of the ancient biblical fortress would harm the archeological site.

Both Netanyahu and Trump have spoken warmly about the trip, even though it has become clear that there are sharp divisions between them on the issue of Jerusalem and settlement activity.

Trump Administration officials have said that the president will not announce the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem at this time.

Netanyahu has also not been invited to join Trump when he make the first visit ever by a sitting US president to the Western Wall.

Ahead of Trump's foreign tour, the White House on Friday published a map of Israel that did not include areas of the country over the pre-1967 lines.

Afterward, in Saudi Arabia, Tillerson made a comment which indicated that he would be willing to talk with Israel's arch-foe, Iran.

“In terms of whether I'd ever pick the phone up, I've never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation,” Tillerson said.

Defense officials said that the believed the dinner’s cancellation was purely logistical and was not a signal of any deeper tensions between US and Israel.

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