US President Barack Obama said goodbye to Israel Friday afternoon and took off from Ben Gurion Airport to Jordan after weather forced changes in schedule.
Earlier Friday, Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before heading out to Bethlehem where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and visited the Church of the Nativity. Obama was then driven to Ben Gurion Airport where he boarded Air Force 1 for the next stop of his tour – a meeting with King Abdullah II in Jordan.
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At Ben Gurion Airport, the last stop on Obama's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the US president was escorted to Air Force 1 by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Obama, Netanyahu, final meeting (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
Obama said goodbye to senior officials, shaking hands with Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, hugging US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and even taking the time to stand for a family picture with the Shapiros.
Goodbye ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport
"Say Cheese," the president said as press snapped the last photos of the US presidents in Israel before his next stop - Jordan.
Before taking of, the US President climbed the stares of Air Force 1, turned around and flashed one last smile at Israel.
In Jordan the US president is scheduled to hold talks with King Abdullah II.
Air Force 1 awaits Obama (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Earlier, strong winds and hazy reported weather meant the US president's flight from Israel to Jordan, scheduled to depart at 15:15, may be delayed.
The president's itinerary was already changed due to the weather conditions, when he had to travel to Bethlehem by car and not by helicopter as previously planned.The change in plans meant that Obama drove through an Israeli checkpoint.
Departure ceremony organizers have decided to disassemble the stage in Ben Gurion International Airport because of the strong winds and the ceremony will most likely be cancelled with no dignatories or press present.
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