The Prime Minister’s Office has plenty of creative ideas for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel next month. But diplomatic protocol, ceremonies, speeches and a packed schedule of meetings will render all these ideas irrelevant.
- Bradley Burston / Obama's Ultimate Guide
- Niva Lanir / Obama Can't Save Us
- PA Official: Obama Can Change Israel's Attitude
- Obama Not Coming With Peace Plan
- Barak Makes Surprise Visit to U.S.
- PM: Broad Coalition Will Advance Peace
- U.S. Holds Contest for Obama J'lem Visit
- PMO Unveils App Ahead of Obama Visit
Obama, who will land in Israel on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 20, will be here for a total of 48 hours – 43 in Jerusalem and another five in Ramallah. “We thought at first we would show Obama other parts of the country and not just Jerusalem and the center,” National Security Adviser Ya'akov Amidror said at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting. “We thought we would take him to the Kinneret or Masada, but in the end there simply won’t be time,” he said.
Without time for a trip through the country, Obama will have to make do with buttoned-up, official meetings, including with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as a state dinner at the President's Residence and a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem and Mount Herzl.
At this point, the only event on Obama’s itinerary that somewhat exceeds diplomatic protocol is the speech he wants to give to the Israeli public. The American president wants to speak to young students, but the White House has not yet decided where this speech will take place and who the audience will be.
Obama’s visit to Israel will be handled like a military operation. It even has a code name – in English, “Unbreakable Alliance.” The person in charge of the “operation” is Amidror, who will travel to Washington this week to meet with senior White House officials to hammer out the final details.
On Netanyahu's official Facebook page, the Prime Minister’s Office has posted logos designed by three graphic artists for the occasion. The logo that receives the most "likes" will appear on signs, flags and official documents. Voting is open until Tuesday at 4 P.M. Get out and vote.