The Americans did not sound enthusiastic about the possibility of the president visiting Yad Vashem. At first, they announced that they would be able to allocate about half an hour for such a visit. On the Israeli side, they made it clear that there was no such possibility, as a visit to Yad Vashem would take at least an hour and fifteen minutes.
But the Americans insisted. In Israel, they were very disappointed with the answer and still hope that they will convince the Americans to retract it. Now the preliminary delegation is waiting for Friday to put on the final touches.
Trump was accused in the past of being insensitive to the Holocaust and of anti-Semitism. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House was critized for not explicitly mentioning Jews. Then, there was the press conference at the White House where an ultra-Orthodox journalist was treated rudely by the president.
Even after the rise in the manifestations of anti-Semitism across the United States, Trump was accused of not sufficiently condemning anti-Semitism. On Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, he made a particularly poignant statement and therefore, the Israelis find it hard to believe that the president will eventually pass over Yad Vashem, as he did earlier this year at the White House official seder.
A senior official in Jerusalem said, "Time during this visit is very scarce, and there are differences of opinion regarding what is being done with it. It appears the Western Wall and Masada are more suitable for him. In any case, nothing is certain and only after the arrival of the preliminary delegation will the schedule be determined."
Meanwhile, the King David Hotel, where the president and his entourage will be staying, are excitedly making preparations ahead of the visit, which will take place on the 22nd of the month and will last only 26 hours. During those hours, the hotel will be closed to ordinary guests for the benefit of the American delegation only. The heavy security arrangements that will accompany the presidential visit in Jerusalem will make the hotel a fortified fortress.
The prestigious hotel has a rich and long history of hosting presidents and prime ministers from around the world such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, former King Hussein of Jordan and American superstar Barbara Streisand.
The CEO of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Haim Shkedi, said that unlike in the past, Trump's stay was arranged within a short period of time: "According to the agreements we have with the Americans, the presidential delegation rents the entire hotel during the visit. So for better or for worse, during the presidential visit we will have to cancel reservations from guests."
From the huge room of the presidential suite on the sixth floor there is a magnificent view of the walls of the Old City and the Temple Mount.
The service manager at the hotel's long-serving mass and liquor division, Issam Ganah, already hosted presidents George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. "When former President Obama was staying at the hotel, we brought him hummus we prepared at home, and he liked it very much. He also liked local cheeses. With former President Clinton I had the closest contact."
The president's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will also be present at the hotel. The hotel also hosted the Trumps on their previous visit to Israel.
The chef of the King David Hotel, David Biton, tried to conceal his excitement, and as far as he is concerned, there is no special activity in the kitchen prior to the presidential visit. "We did not receive special requests; we will be ready with the regular menu."
A glimpse at the hotel's parking lot over the weekend revealed a large drone parked next to Mercedes limos. It was later revealed that it had nothing to do with Trump, but rather with another leader: Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, who arrived in Israel for a first official visit.
The defense industries wanted to impress him and held a display of security equipment in his honor. Among other things, they especially brought in an Israeli made unmanned aerial vehicle that Israel is offering to sell to Romania.
The Romanian prime minister was accompanied by his minister of defense, and during their visit, they discussed increasing cooperation in security and cybersecurity issues and signed economic agreements.
(Translated and edited by N. Elias)