The White House is considering May 22 for U.S. President Donald Trump's possible visit to Israel, a senior official in Jerusalem said on Thursday. The official noted that Trump would stay in Israel for one night.
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Trump will make his first trip abroad as president at the end of May when he will take part in a summit of leaders of NATO nations in Brussels. The White House is considering the possibility of visits to several Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, during Trump's trip to Europe.
Earlier on Thursday, a senior American official told Haaretz that the White House is "exploring the possibility of a future visit to Israel as well as other countries."
An American delegation arrived in Israel on Thursday morning to prepare for the expected visit by Trump. The Americans met with representatives of the Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister's Office and President’s Residence to discuss of logistical and security issues related to the visit.
The leaders of the American delegation said no final decision has yet been made as to whether Trump will visit Israel, and such preliminary discussions do not necessarily mean the visit will actually take place. The Americans also said they are only in the preliminary stages of putting together a plan for the visit.
The visit, if it takes place, is expected to last for only 26 hours and Trump will leave Israel in the afternoon of May 23. The American delegation said one of the possibilities is for Trump to also visit the Palestinian Authority during his short trip.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are expected to accompany Trump during the visit.
Trump is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, as well as making a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Trump will also make a speech, though it is unlikely it will be in the Knesset because this will not be considered an official state visit.
On Friday, the American delegation is scheduled to tour the sites that Trump might visit, such as the Western Wall, the Old City of Jerusalem, Masada and the Allenby Crossing on the border with Jordan.
Discussions concerning the possible visit are being held a few days before the American president meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, on May 3.
The meeting with Abbas follows several meetings Trump has held with Netanyahu and several Arab leaders, all of which revolved around attempts to renew the stalled peace process and around reaching a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. A visit to the region by Trump is expected to include visits to Arab countries, but it was still unclear if a visit to Israel will also include a visit to the Palestinian Authority.
If Trump indeed comes to Israel towards the end of May, his visit will coincide with several key anniversaries. On May 24 Israel will mark Jerusalem Day, noting 50 years to the reunification of the city in 1967. Several days later, June 1, is the expiration date of the presidential order signed by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, freezing the implementation of a law which requires the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.