Mideast Daily News

Trump Armada Heads to Israel; 40 Transport Planes, Plus…No Embassy Move

By Michael Friedson | The Media Line

May 18, 2017

Air Force One taxis to an official welcoming ceremony for US President Barack Obama on his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport on March 20, 2013. (Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

Israel’s primary gateway is being inundated by huge transport planes, all flying in as part of President Donald Trump’s entourage and logistical details. On Monday, when the president himself arrives, both Boeing 747 aircraft that bear the designation “Air Force One” when the commander-in-chief is on board will arrive: one with the president and one with media and support crew. But four days earlier, on Thursday, some 40 giant C-17 and C-5 army transport aircraft are descending onto Israeli soil at Ben Gurion bringing armored limousines, helicopters, and virtually all other vehicles the president and his security team will need for the visit. Two presidential limousines known familiarly as “The Beast” are arriving along with the helicopters that the president will use to fly to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial which has become another of many points of friction developing around the Trump visit. The American president appears to be set to become the first world leader in recent memory to blow-off the traditional visit to Yad Vashem and agree to a token 15-minute drop-in. While it has people talking, much of the emotion on the streets of Israel relates to a member of the White House advance team curtly telling his Israeli counterpart that the holiest site to Jews, the Western Wall, “is in the West Bank” and not Israel. While an administration official speaking off the record has told The Media Line that the remark is a “non-issue by a non-entity,” Trump’s insistence on visiting the holy site with no Israelis along – including the prime minister – present appear to support the advance-man’s reading of the map. The tension between governments – that many Israelis believe wasn’t supposed to happen with the new administration – has also been fed by the allegations that President Trump revealed classified intelligence supplied by Israel and in doing so jeopardized the lives of its intelligence assets. One issue has been put to bed: the President will not be announcing the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv during his trip – or any time soon. Contrary to his numerous campaign promises, President Trump will instead at the end of the month become the fourth consecutive president to sign waivers obviating the 1995 law requiring the embassy to be moved to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.


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