The arrival of inclement Middle East weather Friday disrupted the final hours of the visit to Israel and the West Bank by US President Barack Obama.
The air was filled with dust Friday morning and early afternoon, blown by strong winds. Visibility was minimal in and around Jerusalem, in the nearby West Bank area, and at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The president was supposed to be in Bethlehem at 12:30 p.m., for a visit to the Church of the Nativity, but only left Jerusalem shortly before 2 pm. This was partly because of the weather, reports indicated, but also partly because his one-on-one meeting at the King David Hotel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on for longer than expected, focusing on security arrangements for Israel if and when it moves forward in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Obama had planned to fly by helicopter from Bethlehem, his final stop, to the airport, but that proved impossible.
The Bethlehem visit was the Christian component of his Holy Land trip, and an element he was reluctant to cancel but in the end had to keep short.
The Prime Minister’s Office announced that the planned farewell ceremony at the airport would be canceled because of winds whipping the tarmac, and that a smaller ceremony would be held without the press.
From the airport, Obama was flying to Amman.