Over the weekend, it was announced that Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will focus on three major themes: the Iranian nuclear threat, the implosion of Syria, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
As I recently noted on this blog, there is a hope in Jerusalem that the President is coming to re-set U.S.-Israeli relations in a more positive way. But there is also concern among top Israeli leaders that the President is really coming pressure Netanyahu into cutting a bad deal with the Palestinians (including dividing Jerusalem) and promising not to launch a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, even though Iran appears to be accelerating its bid for the Bomb, and North Korea — a key ally for Iran — has just conducted another nuclear test.
Now more details of the trip are emerging, including the itinerary. On Tuesday, Ynet News — the website of one of Israel’s leading newspapers, Yediot Aharonot — reported the draft schedule as follows:
Wednesday March 20
- President Obama is scheduled to land in Ben Gurion International Airport around noon on Wednesday, March 20.
- He will be welcomed by a State reception which will include speeches by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by the American president himself.
- Obama will then fly to Jerusalem directly to Peres’ residence where he’ll again be ceremoniously received.
- He will continue with Peres and Netanyahu to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, where he will lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.
- The next stop will be Mount Herzl, where Obama will lay a wreath on Herzl’s tomb as a gesture to Zionism. Obama will continue to Yitzhak Rabin’s tomb, laying a wreath there as well.
- In the afternoon the entourage will arrive at the prime minister’s house, where Netanyahu and Obama will meet with small delegations to discuss issues such as Iran, Syria, the peace process and Jonathan Pollard.
- Following the meeting a joint press conference will be held, after which the two and their staff will dine together.
Thursday, March 21
- In the morning, President Obama will depart for Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
- Obama will return to Jerusalem by noon, when he will be taken by Netanyahu to examine a model of Second Temple Period Jerusalem.
- They will continue to the Shrine of the Book, where Netanyahu will show him the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- The American President will continue to see an exhibition in the Israel Museum, which will show Israel’s latest developments in high-tech, bio-tech, nanotechnology and agriculture.
- In the afternoon Obama will address Israelis in a public speech in the Israel Museum or in the International Convention Center in Jerusalem. The Americans have requested the presence of at least 1,000 Israelis.
- Later, Obama will be hosted for a ceremonial dinner by Peres.
Friday, March 22
- President Obama will breakfast with Netanyahu in his home or in King David Hotel.
- The two will go to visit an Iron Dome battery, where Obama will meet with the soldiers manning the battery.
- At 1:00pm local time, a farewell ceremony will take place in the International Airport, from which the president will depart to meet King Abdullah in Jordan.
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