Jerusalem Prepares for President Obama’s Visit
by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency
US President Barack Obama will have a busy itinerary scheduled during his visit to Jerusalem next month. The Jerusalem Municipality and the Prime Minister’s Office are planning an interesting and memorable visit for the president as well as the hundreds of journalists expected to cover the event.
Jerualem’s Mayor Nir Barkat is spearheading a special public relations campaign for Jerusalem according to Israel’s Ynet News. The journalists visiting the city will get to experience all that the capital of Israel has to offer.
There will be tours available to journalists of the city’s historical sites including the Western Wall tunnels and the City of David. The journalists will also have an opportunity to experience Jerusalem’s nightlife and bars.
In addition, the journalists will visit Jerusalem’s famous Mahane Yehuda market and eat at the market’s unique restaurants. Also planned is a visit to the Israel Museum, where the reporters will get to see a new exhibition about the legendary King Herod, one of the Judea’s great builders – famous for the construction of the Western Wall, among other things, two millennia ago.
On a lighter note, the journalists will also see an ice sculpture built in President Obama’s image at Jerusalem’s first ever ice festival that will be held at Jerusalem’s old train station plaza.
The US President’s schedule for Israel looks a little more different.
Code-named “Unbreakable Alliance,” the President’s visit to Israel will begin with a state reception following his landing in Israel on Wednesday, March 20. According to the itinerary released in Israel’s leading newspaper, Yediot Aharonot last week, President Obama will be welcomed by a state reception where he will hear speeches by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Obama himself will also speak.
The President will then fly to Jerusalem directly to President Peres’ residence and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and then Mount Herzl, laying wreaths at Herzl’s tomb and Yitzhak Rabin’s tomb.
In the afternoon, the US President will be hosted at the prime minister’s house where discussions will be held about Iran, Syria, the peace process and Jonathan Pollard, followed by a joint press conference.
On Thursday, President Obama will depart for Ramallah and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At some point during the day, following a visit to the Israel Museum, examining a model of the Second Temple Period in Jerusalem, and viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls with Netanyahu, the President will also give a public speech to Israelis.
For President Obama’s public address, the Americans have requested at least 1,000 Israelis to be in attendance.
The last day of the president’s visit in Jerusalem will be on Friday, March 22. The president will either breakfast with Prime Minister Netanyahu in his home or at the King David hotel. President Obama will then visit the Iron Dome battery with Netanyahu and meet with soldiers in charge of the battery’s operation.
A farewell ceremony will be held for President Obama at Ben Gurion International airport at 1:00 pm local time. The president will fly out to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah in Jordan.
Jerusalem resident, Ben Avital, a student at David Yellin College in Jerusalem, believes that Obama’s visit to the capital is a strategic one. “I personally don’t feel that Obama is against Israel or a great supporter of Israel. He is expected to visit Israel so that’s why he is doing it,” Avital told Tazpit News Agency.
“I do believe that Obama will stand with Israel on the important issues like Iran,” he added.