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Trump scraps Masada visit after Israel nixes chopper landing

19 May 2017

President Trump has cancelled a visit and a planned speech at a historic Israel site because he was not allowed to arrive using his helicopter.

Newsweek, citing Israel's Channel 2, reported that the president declined to have the helicopter land at a nearby airbase, where he would be required to take a cable vehicle up to the historic site.

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 vehicle up the mountain instead, as former President George W. Bush did when he visited. Helicopters on approach create dust, making landing at the site 1,300 above sea level precarious.

An IAF landing at Masada in 1997 generated enough wind to damage the ruins, according to The Jerusalem Post.

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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.

Trump will be visiting Israel and Palestinian territories on May 22 and 23 - amid reports of a "sour" relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhyahu, since last week's report that he had given the Russian foreign minister and ambassador classified information provided by Israel.

Trump will no longer visit Masada on Monday after authorities told him that he could not land his helicopter there, Newsweek reported, citing Israel's Channel 2.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has a regulation that prohibits helicopters from landing at the summit of Masada. It is also listed as the World Heritage site by UNESCO. Initial reports indicated that the reason for the cancellation was the hot weather at Masada.

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Martin Indyk, former USA ambassador to Israel, tweeted that a raft of decisions on the Trump administration in regard to the visit has "soured" Israel's mood.

Masada An aerial photo taken on May 13, 2008 shows the ancient hilltop fortress of Masada in the Judean desert.

The Masada is one of Israel's most important historic sites.

The declaration sparked Israel's anger and a call from the government for an explanation from the White House, which subsequently said that this was not Trump's position.

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Trump scraps Masada visit after Israel nixes chopper landing