Fuming Netanyahu Orders Ministers to Attend Trump's Reception After Most Refuse to Show Up

Ministers didn't want to go after they found out they won't even shake hands with Trump ■ Netanyahu dismisses cabinet meeting in a rage

Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, 14th May 2017
Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, 14th May 2017 Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has required all cabinet ministers to attend the reception ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday. A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu issued his instructions after finding out that most ministers were not planning on attending the event.

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During a Sunday meeting of coalition heads, Netanyahu was notified that there would be a sparse attendance of ministers at the reception and that most party heads wouldn't participate in it. Netanyahu was furious and blew up the meeting, a senior official who attended the meeting said. Immediately afterwards, the Prime Minister's Bureau issued an instruction to all government ministers according to which they must participate in the airport reception.

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Over the last two weeks the plans for Trump's reception at Ben-Gurion Airport have seen many changes. The first plans called for a long ceremony, which included speeches and handshakes with all cabinet ministers and other senior state officials who would welcome Trump on the tarmac. But the plans were cut per the White House's request, which noted that they wanted the reception to be as short as possible due to the warm weather and to include only the two countries' anthems, handshakes between Trump and Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, as well as a guard of honor.

A timetable of Trump's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority

In light of those changes, the ministers were at first disinvited from the reception. However, on Saturday evening the plans changed again, and the ministers were informed that they are in fact invited, but that they must arrive two and a half hours in advance and that they will have to undergo a security check. In addition, they will only view the ceremony from the sidelines and will not shake hands with Trump. The Foreign Ministry told the ministers that attendance was not mandatory.

As a result, most ministers said they will not attend.

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Air Force One is expected to land Monday afternoon at Ben-Gurion airport after departing from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Trump will be received at the airport by an Israeli delegation at 12:15 P.M, and will then proceed to the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

At 6 P.M., Trump will meet with Netanyahu at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. The prime minister and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, will host the president and First Lady Melania Trump for dinner at the Prime Minister's Residence at 7:30 P.M.

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to visit Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum and memorial. He will give a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem at 2 P.M.

The U.S. president's plane will take off at 4 P.M. to continue on to Europe.

Another engagement not listed on the Prime Minister's Office schedule is Trump's trip across the 1967 border to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where he is expected to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.