Angry Benjamin Netanayahu has to order Israeli ministers to meet Donald Trump at the airport

US president set to arrive in Tel Aviv as part of first foreign trip in pursuit of the ‘ultimate deal’ - Israeli-Palestinian peace 

Monday 22 May 2017 16:09 BST
Donald Trump lands in Tel Aviv on first foreign tour

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly had to order his cabinet to meet visiting US President Donald Trump at a welcoming reception after several ministers refused to attend.

Several official sources told Israeli media that Mr Netanyahu noticed during his cabinet meeting on Sunday that planned attendance at Monday’s ceremony at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv was low, which allegedly led the prime minister to lose his temper and cut the weekly meeting short.

Mr Netanyahu’s office then issued official instructions to all government ministers to inform them that attendance at the reception is mandatory.

Many government officials were allegedly loathe to travel to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem on Monday after it emerged the original plan for a lengthy welcome ceremony featuring speeches and handshakes with the visiting president had been replaced by a much shorter reception at the White House’s request due to “the warm weather.”

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Culture Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin reportedly told the coalition government’s head they were reluctant to cancel existing work commitments to face lengthy security checks and the prospect of waiting on the tarmac in the sun as sideline participants in the ceremony.

Their comments supposedly led Mr Netanyahu to demand all of his ministers’ presence.

Air Force One arrives in Israel at 12.15pm (10.15am GMT) local time. Mr Trump’s two-day itinerary includes a visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall - the first by a sitting US president - and a private dinner with Mr Netanyahu before meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

Mr Trump is widely viewed in Israel and the wider Middle East as far more sympathetic to Israeli interests than his predecessor Barack Obama.

Despite his pro-Israeli campaign trail rhetoric, since entering the White House Mr Trump has caught some Israeli hard-liners off guard with the suggestion the government should “hold back” on settlement building, and his administration has equivocated over whether the US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as promised.

He has, however, repeatedly emphasised his sincere desire to broker a peace deal in the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, putting his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of such efforts.

During Mr Abbas’ visit to the White House earlier this month Mr Trump said that a lasting peace agreement is “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” although his comments were met with skepticism by many observers.

Mr Trump’s visit to Israel is the second leg of his first international trip as president.

Two days in Riyadh saw the US President pledge stronger ties with Saudi Arabian leaders, condemn “Islamist terrorism”, and sign a $110 billion (£85 million) arms deal with the country.

On leaving the Middle East Mr Trump goes on to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, Brussels for a Nato summit, and finally Sicily for a meeting of the G7.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in