Trump cancels Israel fortress speech over helicopter landing restrictions

19 May, 2017, 17:28 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • George Bush at Masada

US President Donald Trump has reportedly cancelled a speech at an ancient site in Israel because his helicopter was denied permission to land there.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both made the trip to Masada by landing helicopters nearby and traveling to the summit by cable auto, according to Newsweek.

The Trump administration announced plans for the president to deliver a speech at Masada early this month.

The decision by the authorities came after an incident took place in 1997 when a military helicopter landed in the middle of Masada and caused damaged to the ruins.

Under threat from a Roman siege at Masada, Jewish rebel defenders killed themselves rather than be captured by invading forces between 73 and 74 AD.

During the nine-day, five-city foreign trip, he will travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium, Italy and the Vatican.

The Masada is one of Israel's most important historic sites. Trump will visit the Western Wall alone and without Prime Minister Netanyahu and the visit will be deemed a private visit which is not under Israeli responsibility. The fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It comes after an Israeli Air Force (IAF) regulation that prevents helicopters landing at the summit of the Masada site, according to Israel's Channel 2 broadcaster. George W. Bush came by the new cable vehicle.

Before Trump changed his plans, the director of Masada National Park, Eitan Campbell, told the Jerusalem Post that "the Americans will land in Bar Yehuda landing strip" and then go up to the mountain "by cable auto".

The president will rather be speaking at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem during his visit on May 22, according to the Jerusalem post. The Israeli Foreign Ministry also declined to comment on Trump's schedule.

Another Twitter user joked: "Trump is going to move the US embassy to Masada", referencing the consideration the president is giving to moving Washington's diplomatic representation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump officials reiterated that it was not Trump's position.

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