First time jitters: Trump's travel team causes logistics headache
As opposed to prior visits of US presidents, which were well-organized and prepared, Israeli officials encounter frequent changes in timetables and locations 6 days before Trump arrives; His visit comes on the heels of report that Trump divulged classified info. from Israel to Russia.
Israeli officials are calling the chaos happening behind the scenes of Trump's visit "first visit symptoms." Trump's visit will be in the shadow of the turmoil that has ensued since Tuesday, when it was reported that he had passed on classified information given to him by Israel to Russia.
As opposed to prior visits of US presidents, which were organized ahead of time, Israeli officials are encountering frequent changes in timetables as well as locations.
For example, American officials initially informed their Israeli counterparts Tuesday that they were considering changing the date and time of Trump's Masada speech from Tuesday to Monday due to heavy heat, even though temperatures are forecast to be a fair 78 degrees.
However, the American team then abruptly canceled the speech at Masada altogether, deciding instead to have Trump speak at the Israel Museum on May 22nd, the first day of his visit.
According to Trump's national security adviser, "The president will declare an irrevocable alliance with Israel and strengthen ties with the closest US ally in the Middle East."
Trump is expected to land on Monday, May 22, at 11:40am. The Israeli team wanted to hold a festive reception at the airport with limited staff and speeches by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump, but the Americans were resolutely opposed to this, wanting instead to have a short ceremony with handshakes and the national anthems of both countries.
Currently, assuming no further changes occur, President Trump will be welcomed by Netanyau and President Reuven Rivlin along with their wives Sara and Nechama, respectively.
From the airport, Trump will fly to Jerusalem and meet with Rivlin before making a short visit to Yad Vashem along with Netanyahu. The Americans insisted the visit be no longer than 15 minutes, which will include a brief explanation and signing of the guest book.
From Yad Vashem, Trump will head to the Israel Museum, for his speech. Afterward, he will head to his hotel to rest before dining with Netanyahu and wives Sara and Melania at the Prime Minister's Residence.
During the meal, statements will be made to journalists, who will be allowed to ask each side a number of questions.
Tuesday morning Trump will visit Bethlehem and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before heading to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. The last two visits are considered private visits and will be conducted without any Israeli involvement. Press convoys traveling with the president will also not document the visits.
Following Trump's visit to the Western Wall, the president will go by helicopter to the airport for a short departure ceremony before taking off for Rome at 4:30pm.
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)