Bush changes itinerary of Israel trip to fit in visit to Capernaum
U.S. President to arrive by helicopter to Christian holy site during next week's visit.
United States President George W. Bush has changed the itinerary of his trip to Israel in order to fit in a visit to Capernaum, the Christian holy site.
The U.S. president has specifically requested that his January 9 trip to Israel include a stop at the place in which, according to the New Testament, Jesus chose his 12 apostles.
Bush is likely to arrive there in his presidential helicopter under heavy protection. White House security personnel have already visited the Galilee site and have planned the security arrangements in coordination with the Israel Police.
Church officials in Capernaum are preparing for the visit, which might also include a stop at the nearby Church of the Beatitudes. Seven years ago, Pope John Paul II visited the church and gave a sermon there.
Officials at the Prime Minister's Office are preparing for Bush's visit to Israel, and have established a special task force dedicated only to his vist. The task force will be headed by Amnon Ben-Ami, deputy director of the PMO.
At least 8,000 police officers will provide security for the visit.
An official reception will be held at Ben-Gurion International Airport, with VIPs welcoming the U.S. president.
The president, the prime minister, ministers, MKs, General Staff officers, senior police officers, the Supreme Court president and other dignitaries are expected to attend.
Following the ceremony, Bush will head to Jerusalem and will be hosted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Route 1 will be blocked from the airport to the capital, and traffic will be diverted to route 443.
Around 120 foreign journalists are expected to attend, and a special media center is likely to be set up for the occasion.