dglobalnews.com Trump cancels Israel fortress speech over helicopter landing restrictions
Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Trump cancels Israel fortress speech over helicopter landing restrictions

Trump cancels Israel fortress speech over helicopter landing restrictions

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 U.S. presidents, such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have travelled to the site using cable cars.

Instead of the historic site, Trump will be speaking at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem during his visit on May 22.The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment, referring any matters involving Trump's schedule to the USA government.

It was the last time a helicopter was allowed to land in the middle of Masada, the fortress built by Herod the Great that overlooks the Dead Sea on the edge of the Judean Desert.

In 1997, the wind blown by an Israeli military chopper that landed there damaged famed archaeological ruins, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Israeli media outlets reported that Trump had been scheduled to give his main speech on the Israeli leg of his upcoming trip overseas at the UNESCO World Heritage site. 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. It was carrying then-US Air Force commander Gen. Michael Ryan who had asked to visit the fortress, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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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.

The former president and Netanyahu had a fraught relationship during his term because of stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

As part of his eight-day foreign trip, Trump will also be visiting Saudi Arabia, the Vatican City, Italy and Belgium. US does not consider the West Bank a part of Israeli land.

The Masada is one of Israel's most important historic sites.

The declaration sparked Israel's anger and a call from the government for an explanation from the White House, which subsequently said that this was not Trump's position.

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