Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a stepping-up of welcome overtures to President Donald Trump, scheduled to arrive in Israel for his first state visit on Monday afternoon.
After Saudi Arabia greeted the president on Saturday with lavish shows of friendship and national solidarity, including awards, billboards, air shows, cannons, trumpets and even a royal welcome – 81-year-old King Salman personally met Trump on the tarmac, an honor he had not extended to predecessor Barack Obama – Israel decided to level up its own diplomatic game.
Instead of a short and simple handshake ceremony upon Trump’s landing at Ben Gurion airport, the president will be met by the heads of state, including Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, as well as a full complement of government ministers, whom Netanyahu ordered to attend on Sunday.
“This is President Trump’s first visit outside the US, and the honor is ours that he has chosen to come to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and – of course – to the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said in Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
After the reception ceremony, Trump will fly by helicopter to Jerusalem for a meeting with Rivlin at the president’s residence before continuing to the Old City, where he is set to become the first-ever sitting US president to visit the Western Wall. He will also tour the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In the evening, Trump and Netanyahu will meet at the King David Hotel, where Trump and his large entourage will stay for the night, before dining together at the prime minister’s residence.
On Tuesday, Trump will travel to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, located outside Jerusalem, to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He may also visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
In the afternoon, Trump will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial before traveling to the Israel Museum to deliver his main address, which will “celebrate the unique history of Israel and of the Jewish people,” according to the White House website.
Netanyahu made his message of welcome clear to his ministers and to the people of Israel, dismissing suspicions that any bad feelings linger between the two governments after the recent revelation that Trump will not move the US embassy to Jerusalem in the near future.
“Mr. President, we look forward to your visit,” the prime minister said in his Sunday address, concluding, “The citizens of Israel will receive you with open arms.”