Israel has made last-minute changes to the airport welcome ceremony organized for visiting US President Donald Trump, adding some pomp, decorum and a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Channel 10 reported Saturday.
Trump is due to touch down at Ben Gurion Airport shortly before 12:15 p.m. on Monday. The US president was set to be received with a simple handshake ceremony on the tarmac, then taken by helicopter to his first meeting, a visit with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
A last-minute decision had been made to upgrade the welcoming ceremony, Channel 10 reported, and it will now include more formalities and a speech by the Israeli leader. The TV channel aired a picture of a military band practicing on the tarmac.
No reason was given for the changes, but it comes following the lavish welcome Trump was accorded when he landed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday — most notably being personally greeted by the 81-year-old King Salman, an honor not bestowed on Barack Obama.
Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail, while cannons boomed in welcome.
This was followed by an elaborate coffee ceremony before more than a dozen horses flanked the presidential limousine as Trump was slowly driven to the Royal Court in Riyadh.
Trumpets played and soldiers stood at attention as the president walked in. As he arrived, Trump told the king the spectacle was “very impressive.”
Billboards featuring images of Trump and the Saudi king dotted the highways of Riyadh and lights bathed Trump’s luxury hotel in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.
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Later, the president received a gold medal, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, the country’s highest honor for “his quest to enhance security and stability in the region and around the world.”
Also Saturday, Channel 2 reported that Trump’s visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum may be increased from 15 minutes to a full half an hour because the Israelis were “very offended.”
Trump is set to lay a wreath at Yad Vashem at 1:00 PM Tuesday, before making his speech at the Israel Museum.
The rest of Trump’s itinerary, which includes private visits to the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is expected to continue unchanged.