The Magnolia tree that US President Barack Obama brought with him on Air Force One is safe and sound at President Shimon Peres’s Jerusalem residence, where both leaders were seen “planting” it on Wednesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the president said Wednesday night.
Earlier, Hebrew media reports said the tree had been uprooted and quarantined by the Agriculture Ministry.
According to Peres spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch, the tree’s roots were encased in a plastic netting prior to a formal inspection next week as required by law, under the direction of the Agriculture Ministry and with the full knowledge of Obama’s entourage.
Obama gave the following short statement after the tree was in position: “It’s an incredible honor to be able to offer this tree to this beautiful garden with so much history with somebody who is a champion on behalf of the Israeli people and a champion on behalf of peace. And we’re very good gardeners. I’m sure this tree is going to do great.”
The Agriculture Ministry said it was forbidden to bring plants into Israel from overseas without first passing quarantine or inspection due to fear of pests, which is why a special procedure was implemented in this case.