Netanyahus head to World Economic Forum in Davos; Trump will be closing speaker
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Netanyahus head to World Economic Forum in Davos; Trump will be closing speaker

Israeli PM to meet with over 10 world leaders, including Germany’s Merkel, France’s Macron, Ukraine’s Poroshenko and Canada’s Trudeau, but no talks fixed yet with US president

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara pose for a photograph at the Taj Mahal in the Indian city of Agra on January 16, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara pose for a photograph at the Taj Mahal in the Indian city of Agra on January 16, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to fly to Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, through Friday.

Netanyahu will meet with over ten heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alan Brest, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rota, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

No meeting with US President Donald Trump, who will also be attending the conference, has been confirmed.

The prime minister’s delegation will include his wife Sara, National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and his chief-of-staff Yoav Horowitz.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laughs during a conference at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 21, 2016. (AFP/FABRICE COFFRINI)

Also slated to attend the conference from Israel are opposition chairman Isaac Herzog, Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, Teva  Pharmaceuticals Executive Vice President Iris Beck-Codner and a small delegation of professors from Ben Gurion University in the Negev.

The motto for this year’s WEF to be attended by over 2,500 politicians, business leaders and celebrities is “creating a shared future in a fractured world.”

The conference is expected to highlight the use of artificial intelligence through the expanding robotics industry, climate change, and even the issue sexual harassment through the lens of the #MeToo movement.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be giving the opening address at the ski resort town on Tuesday evening and Trump will be presenting closing remarks ahead of Friday’s closing.

In an interview he gave earlier this month to The Wall Street Journal, Trump said part of his motivation in becoming the first US president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000 was to be an unabashed “cheerleader for the country.”

Trump also pointed to quickening US economic growth and a roaring stock market as reasons to cheer when he and a large part of his cabinet join leaders such as Macron, Merkel, Modi, British Prime Minister Theresa May and others this week.

US President Donald Trump making his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, January 18, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presented to early-comers in Davos an updated overview of the global economy, which it said is expanding at a broad and healthy clip.

But ahead of the meetings, a WEF survey of nearly 1,000 experts and decision-makers underlined growing anxiety about the risks of environmental disaster and armed conflict — not least involving North Korea and the United States, after months of bellicose rhetoric from Trump.

Trump will be running up against internationalist foils in Davos this week such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron, who has subverted one of the US president’s signature lines with his own motto of “Make our planet great again.”

For his part, Netanyahu turned down a personal request for a meeting at WEF by the CEO of Russian firm Kaspersky Lab, three months after Israel was named as the source of explosive intel that the cybersecurity firm’s software was used to steal classified information from the United States.

Responding last week on behalf of Netanyahu, the PMO said that “regrettably, due to the heavy demands of his schedule, he must decline your kind invitation.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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