Trump cancels Israel fortress speech over helicopter landing restrictions


President Trump is canceling a planned speech at an ancient mountain fortress in Israel, according to a new report.

Trump was supposed to speak at the ancient and historic mountain fortress of Masada during his upcoming foreign trip, but he will instead speak at the Israel Museum, which apparently can accommodate Trump's chopper.

Former presidents who gave made visits, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have landed helicopters at the base of the historic site and taken the cable vehicle up.

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Helicopters are not allowed to land at the top of the UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the Dead Sea in the Judaean Desert because they whip up damaging and risky dust clouds.

An IAF landing at Masada in 1997 generated enough wind to damage the ruins, according to The Jerusalem Post. 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 is also listed as the World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is one of the country's archaeological wonders. He will pay a brief visit to Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum.

The ancient site became a symbol of Jewish heroism after dozens of Jews - 960 in total - there chose to kill themselves, rather than surrender to the Romans in 70 AD.

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

"Well Masada was too hot, so we found a great spot instead for POTUS", Eitan Weiss, deputy spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry tweeted, appearing to mock the reason for the cancellation. The Dead Sea Scrolls make an important setting'. USA does not consider the West Bank a part of Israeli land.

Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel, tweeted that a raft of decisions on the Trump administration in regard to the visit has "soured" Israel's mood. The move angered Israel and officials asked the White House for an explanation.

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It will be the first visit by a sitting US president to the Western Wall (Barack Obama only visited the site as a presidential candidate).