Netanyahu's U.S. Trip: Official State Visit or Family Vacation?

Office of the PM issues last minute statement about Netanyahu's soldier son joining his parents on U.S. trip.

In a last minute statement late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced that in addition to his wife Sara, Netanyahu's soldier son, Yair, also joined him on his visit to the United States.

Yair Netanyahu- Alberto Denkberg - Nov. 6, 2009
Alberto Denkberg

Netanyahu's office did not release information about Yair Netanyahu joining his father until late Saturday night, after the prime minister's plane had already taken off, and an hour and half after most major newspapers in Israel closed.

Netanyahu left for the U.S. Saturday night to address the Jewish Federations' General Assembly in New Orleans, and is due to arrive in New York on Monday.

The prime minister's office knew it could not withhold the information, which would spark public criticism, and therefore postponed the announcement to the last minute. The office stated that Yair Netanyahu, who is currently serving as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, was on a regular vacation that had been approved by his commanders.

Yair Netanyahu joined his parents on the prime minister's flight, sitting in business class. He will also stay at the same hotel as Netanyahu, and will probably enjoy the services of the prime minister's security staff and chauffer services from the Israeli consulate in New York.

Netanyahu's office claimed on Saturday that all of Yair's trip expenses were paid by Netanyahu. Furthermore, the trip was in accordance with PM office regulations, the statement said.

Netanyahu's schedule on this U.S. visit is especially light, allowing the prime minister time to travel with his wife and son. Netanyahu will stay in New York for three days, during which the prime minister is expected to meet UN Secretary General on Monday and U.S. Secretary of State on Thursday. Netanyahu will devote the rest of his schedule to interviews with U.S. media.