Trump Said To Nix Stop At Ancient Israeli Site After He Couldn’t Land Chopper On It

Andrew Harnik/AP

President Donald Trump canceled a planned speech at the historic mountain fortress of Masada in Israel after learning that he could not land a helicopter at the site, Newsweek reported on Thursday.

Israeli media outlets reported that Trump had been scheduled to give his main speech on the Israeli leg of his upcoming trip abroad at the UNESCO World Heritage site. But he is now slated to speak at the Israel Museum instead, according to Newsweek.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that Trump would not be able to land a helicopter on top of the fortress and would need to take a cable car up the mountain instead, as former President George W. Bush did when he visited.

“The Americans will land in the Bar Yehuda landing strip,” the director of Masada National Park, Eitan Campbell, told the Jerusalem Post prior to Trump’s reported change of plans. “They will go up to the mountain by cable car.”

Trump’s interest in the site appears to predate his political career: According to a report in the Atlantic citing Eran Sidis, a spokesman for the speaker of the Knesset, Trump made inquiries six years ago to see if he could host the Miss Universe pageant at the historical site.

Campbell told the Jerusalem Post that helicopters have been barred from landing atop Masada since the 1990s, as sand and gusts of wind thrown up by the propellers cause “damage to the antiquities.”

Former President Bill Clinton had an even more arduous trek to the summit, according to Campbell: “He came up with the old cable car and walked up 100 steps.”

Given that Trump’s idea of exercise is holding campaign rallies, as he told the New York Times in 2015, the cancellation may be for the best.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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