Barack Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel kicks off with a ceremonial reception at Ben Gurion Airport early Wednesday afternoon. Some 51 hours later, a similar reception will bid him farewell on Friday afternoon.
Obama will meet with leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, will see some sites and skip others in the carefully planned schedule of his historic visit, and then heads to Jordan. Here’s the itinerary for the trip:
Wednesday, March 20:
- 12:15 p.m.: Obama lands at Israel’s international airport and is received with an honor guard. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lead the welcoming committee. Obama speaks briefly. He also visits an Iron Dome battery, specially deployed nearby. The president then helicopters to Jerusalem.
- 4:00 p.m.: President Shimon Peres hosts Obama — a ceremonial welcome, plenty of singing, and then a working session.
- 5:20 p.m.: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts Obama for the trip’s most substantive talks, through the late afternoon into the evening.
- 8:10 p.m.: Netanyahu and Obama hold a joint press conference, then move to a working dinner and more talks, before Obama retires to his suite at the nearby King David Hotel.
Thursday, March 21:
- 9:00 a.m.: Obama visits the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, tour an exhibit showcasing Israeli innovations, and meet local high-tech entrepreneurs.
- 11:00 a.m.: Obama travels to Ramallah, holds meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, delivers an address to young Palestinians.
- 4:40 p.m.: Obama delivers the key public address of his visit, to a mainly young audience at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center.
- 5:40 p.m.: The president meets with US diplomatic staff at the American Consulate in Jerusalem. Obama then returns to the President’s Residence, where Netanyahu joins him and Peres. In a late addition to the schedule, a pre-dinner meeting was also slotted in for the president and Israel’s new opposition leader, Labor party chair Shelly Yachimovich.
- 8:00 p.m.: Peres hosts Obama for a state dinner, attended by politicians, military brass, judges, Nobel laureates, authors, Miss Israel, high-tech trailblazers and other notables, featuring more speeches and Peres’s awarding of Obama with the Presidential Medal of Distinction.
Friday, March 22:
- 8:40 a.m.: Obama visits Mount Herzl and lays wreaths on the graves of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin.
- 9:30 a.m.: Obama tours the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum.
- 12:00 p.m.: Obama visits the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
- 3 p.m: Obama says goodbye at an official sendoff at the airport, with Peres leading the farewells.
During Obama’s visit the main highway from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv (Route 1) will be closed for lengthy periods of time. Also, the streets around the King David Hotel, where the president will be staying, will be closed for the duration of the visit.
The Israeli smartphone WAZE navigation app will be synchronized with Israel police, aiming to update drivers in real-time about blocked roads and to redirect traffic to alternative routes.