US President Barack Obama will not hold his planned public address at the Knesset during his upcoming visit to Israel, but rather at an alternative Jerusalem venue, probably the International Convention Center.
Obama is due to arrive in Israel on March 20 for his first visit to the country as head of state. Obama’s reason for skipping the Knesset is his preference for a “politically neutral” venue, Israel Radio reported.
In addition to the speech, Obama’s tentative itinerary is said to include a visit to an Iron Dome battery and a lengthy stop at the Israel Museum, as well as meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and a five-hour West Bank trip to see Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Wreath-laying ceremonies at the graves of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin, and at Yad Vashem, are on the schedule as well.
Last week, an Israeli TV report said Obama would call off the trip in the event that Netanyahu fails to assemble a new governing coalition by March 16. The coalition talks were still ongoing Wednesday, with contradictory reports regarding their expected outcome.