Obama travels by road to Bethlehem

A fierce sandstorm hit Jerusalem on Friday, forcing US President Barack Obama to travel by motorcade to the West Bank city of Bethlehem rather than by helicopter as scheduled, Israeli police said.



By (AFP)

Published: Fri 22 Mar 2013, 6:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:52 PM

What started out as a sunny but windy morning with few clouds in the sky quickly deteriorated into a sandstorm with gale-force winds buffeting the city and forcing a last-minute change in the president’s plans.

“The American president’s convoy of cars just left for Bethlehem,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, saying several major roads from central Jerusalem to Bethlehem would be closed for security reasons.

She said the stormy weather precluded flying, with Obama likely to drive directly from Bethlehem to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv from where he is scheduled to depart for Jordan on Air Force One at 1315 GMT.

“Due to the weather which will not allow flying, the president may go directly from Bethlehem to Ben Gurion airport,” she said.

An AFP correspondent at the airport also reported very high winds and zero visibility, saying security tents and barriers on the tarmac for press and visitors coming to attend the departure ceremony were in danger of flying away.

Obama was on Friday wrapping up a historic three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, his first since becoming president.

In the morning, he visited the graves of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, and paid his respects at the grave of the late Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin before visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

After a brief late-morning meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he had been scheduled for a quick hop to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, which Christians revere as the birthplace of Christ.

pix-sy-hmw/srm


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