U.S. and Israeli officials said President Barack Obama would not delay his trip to Israel in the event that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unable to form a government.
An Israeli Embassy official in Washington described as “baseless” reports in the Israeli media earlier this week that Obama would delay his trip should Netanyahu fail to meet a March 16 deadline to form a government, a few days before Obama is due to arrive.
The official told JTA that preparations for the trip were continuing apace and there was no sign of a postponement.
It has been assumed that President Obama would postpone his trip rather than land at Ben Gurion Airport and be faced with a having to deal with officials who might not be in their same posts when a coalition finally is formed.
It is possible that the White House has to put on a good face towards the visit. Any remarks hinting that Obama will not arrive on March 20 could be interpreted as pressure on all parties to get their act together and form a government.
Assuming President Obama arrives as planned. he will not speak at the Knesset, where he might be subject to undisciplined Knesset Members from both sides of the political fence.
In his 2008 campaign visit to Jerusalem, he visited the Western Wall. This time around, he would cause a diplomatic catastrophe were he to step one foot into the Old City or any other part of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority.
More likely he will speak at the Jerusalem Convention Center, the Times of Israel reported. He probably also make a “de rigeur” obligatory visit to the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial and Museum.