Israel awaits Trump's visit amid tightened security

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-22 00:42:53|Editor: yan
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JERUSALEM, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel was awaiting on Sunday U.S. President Donald Trump's first visit with unprecedented security preparedness, amid fears that he will pressure the Jewish state to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Some 11,000 police officers will secure the two-day visit from the ground as three helicopters will patrol the sky above his convoy, officials said.

Police Spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement that Highway No. 1, which connects Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel's financial capital, will be closed during rush hours on Monday afternoon when Trump's convoy travels to Jerusalem.

In addition, dozens of Palestinian shop owners and residents in East Jerusalem's Old City would be required to temporarily evacuate and shut down their shops and homes, the police said.

Trump is scheduled to visit the Western Wall, a holy site for Jews in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem, and then walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed all government ministers to attend the reception at the airport on Monday. The order came after some ministers refused to attend the ceremony, citing work engagements.

Education minister Naftali Bennet, who is also the leader of the ultra-nationalist faction of the Jewish Home, called on Netanyahu to ask Trump to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which was occupied and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, a move never recognized internationally.

Trump, his wife Melania and a delegation of 900 people, including senior administration officials and security personnel, will arrive Monday for a visit to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank.

Trump will meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu on Monday before traveling to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The meetings will focus on the U.S. efforts to revive the long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

At 14:00 local time (1100 GMT) on Tuesday, Trump is due to give a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to conclude his visit, before heading to Europe.

Trump is expected to request Netanyahu and Abbas to make confidence-building steps, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported.

Citing a White House official, the daily reported that Trump will ask the Israelis to curb the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and will call on the Palestinians to halt support for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and stop "incitement" against Israel.