US President Barack Obama’s much-heralded Israel visit next month will reportedly include a visit to an Iron Dome battery, a lengthy visit to the Israel Museum taking in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a speech in Jerusalem to at least 1,000 Israelis.
The details of the trip have yet to be confirmed, but Yedioth Ahronoth detailed a tentative itinerary Tuesday that shows Obama will pack in several meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and a five-hour West Bank trip to see Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as tours of Yad Vashem, the Israel Museum, and Israel’s much-vaunted, US-funded missile defense system.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro had confirmed Monday that Obama would visit an Iron Dome battery and Yad Vashem, and give a major public speech.
The March 20-22 trip is Obama’s first as US president, and Netanyahu said Sunday that he is to focus his talks here on stopping Iran’s nuclear program, diplomatic progress with the Palestinians and the eroding situation in Syria.
The unsourced report detailed that Obama would be greeted by Netanyahu and Peres after landing around noon at Ben-Gurion airport on Wednesday March 20, where all three leaders will give short speeches.
From the airport, Obama will fly to Jerusalem to be hosted at the President’s Residence. Along with Peres and Netanyahu, Obama will head next to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the graves of Yitzhak Rabin and Theodor Herzl on Mount Herzl.
Later that day, he and Netanyahu will hold substantive talks at the prime minister’s residence, together with their teams, and will then hold a joint press conference. They will end the day dining together.
Obama and his delegation will be staying at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.
Thursday will see Obama visit Abbas in Ramallah followed by a visit to the Israel Museum — where he will tour the model of Second Temple-era Jerusalem, Netanyahu will tour the Dead Sea Scrolls with him, and he will also see an exhibit detailing Israeli innovation in hi-tech, bio–tech and agriculture. That afternoon, the president will deliver a major speech either at the museum or at the nearby Binyenei Hauma Jerusalem Conference Center. The US is said to want a venue that will hold at least 1,000 people — signaling a landmark address along the lines of his speech in Cairo on his Middle East trip after he was elected in 2009.
The president will breakfast with Netanyahu on Friday, and the two are then scheduled to visit an Iron Dome battery and meet with the soldiers staffing it. Then Obama will head back to the airport, and a visit to King Abdullah in Jordan.