International desk – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered his ministers to attend the airport reception for US President Donald Trump Monday after discovering that a number had planned not to attend.
According to reports in the Israeli media, an angry Netanyahu was informed on Sunday that party heads and a number of ministers planned to skip the reception after the White House had asked for the meet and greet to be shortened to the two countries’ anthems and handshakes only between Netanyahu and Trump.
Haaretz, the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post all carried stories, some quoting an identified Israeli government official on the instruction from Netanyahu.
British newspaper Guarding listed those reports saying that ministers had been upset at not being included in the receiving line on the airport tarmac.
The row is the latest in a series of controversies to hit the planned visit of the US president, which officials in Israel have privately characterised as often haphazard.
Trump will arrive for the whirlwind visit to Israel and to the occupied Palestinian territories Monday, amid mounting questions over what – if any – practical steps he will take to advance his “ultimate peace deal” between the two sides.
Overshadowed by the escalating scandals surrounding him, the US president will meet Netanyahu and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, during 26 hours of events.
Trump will arrive from Riyadh on Air Force One just before noon at Ben Gurion airport, accompanied by his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared, before flying by helicopter to Jerusalem.
During his visit, Trump will briefly visit the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, dine with Netanyahu and make a private visit to the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy site.
Then on Tuesday morning Trump will meet Abbas in Bethlehem before flying on to Rome.
Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, ahead of Trump’s arrival, Netanyahu said: “I will discuss with President Trump ways to strengthen our primary and steadfast ties with the United States. We will improve our security ties, which we are strengthening on a daily basis. We will also discuss ways to advance the peace.”