Trump cancels visit to ancient site after Israel bars helicopter landing

Posted May 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump has reportedly cancelled a speech at an ancient site in Israel because his helicopter was denied permission to land there.

Bush and Bill Clinton visited the mountain site on the edge of the Judean Desert by taking a helicopter to the base of the mountain and then a cable auto up to fortress, per Newsweek.

Trump had originally meant to give his keynote speech at Masada but the visit was cancelled.

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".

Under threat from a Roman siege at Masada, Jewish rebel defenders killed themselves rather than be captured by invading forces between 73 and 74 AD.

'Well Masada was too hot, so we found a great spot instead for POTUS, ' Eitan Weiss, deputy spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry tweeted, seemingly mocking the president, according to Newsweek report.

The president will rather be speaking at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem during his visit on May 22, according to the Jerusalem post. The Dead Sea Scrolls make an important setting'. It was carrying then-US Air Force commander Gen. Michael Ryan who had asked to visit the fortress, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The plans for the visit have also drawn criticism, because only 15 minutes are allocated to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum, and because a senior USA official harshly rebuffed a request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu come with Trump to visit the Western Wall, Channel 2 reported.

News of the president's cancellation stirred reactions among observers of the American-Israeli relationship and officials inside the country.

As well as the Masada cancellation, Trump will only spend 15 minutes at the national Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, a move likely to offend the Israelis.

Since then, the only plane on Masada was a Cessna light aircraft that accidentally crashed into the site in 2006.