President Barack Obama is reportedly considering a second visit to the Palestinian Authority, adding Bethlehem to his itinerary in addition to Ramallah. The change in schedule may come at the expense of the president’s visit to an Iron Dome battery in Israel.
The religious visit to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, would take place on March 22 — the third and final day of the Obama visit.
According to Maariv, Israel is considering bringing an Iron Dome battery to Ben Gurion Airport, in order to provide the president the opportunity to see and be photographed with the centerpiece of Israel’s missile defense that was largely funded by the US.
The Iron Dome short-range rocket interceptor was deployed against Gazan rockets during Operation Pillar of Defense. The system proved effective during the November mini-war, intercepting 84 percent of the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at residential areas in Israel’s south and center.
In late January and early February, three Iron Dome batteries were deployed in Israel’s north as a precaution against the threat of attack from Hezbollah and Syria.
Obama is scheduled to land in Israel on Wednesday, March 20, and depart two days later. His trip is to include high-level meetings, tours and a speech at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. His advisers rejected the Knesset as a possible location for the speech, saying it was too political.
Michal Shmulovich contributed to this report.