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Reporters threaten to boycott Netanyahu’s US trip over flight home

The journalists are upset they won't be allowed to travel back to Israel on the PM's plane.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, board a flight to Rwanda at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya, July 6, 2016. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, board a flight to Rwanda at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya, July 6, 2016. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Israeli journalists accompanying Benjamin Netanyahu on his upcoming United States trip will not be allowed to return to Israel with the prime minister, and will instead be responsible for arranging their own flight home.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office’s announcement, the unusual decision relates to the time pressure of leaving after Shabbat and the urgency of arriving in Israel before the start of Yom Kippur.

In response to the announcement, the Israeli diplomatic press corps threatened to boycott Netanyahu’s trip to the United States.

“On behalf of all the reporters who are supposed to fly with the prime minister, I am informing you that as long as we cannot return with you on the prime minister’s plane, we will not be able to sign up for the flight and will be absent from it,” the press corps wrote in a letter to Netanyahu’s spokesperson Topaz Luk.

“It is unreasonable to expect us, the journalists who accompany the trip, to leave the Shabbat space in order to arrive in Israel a day before [Yom] Kippur or alternatively to stay on Yom Kippur in New York. What is forbidden to reporters according to the rules of protocol should apply to the entire entourage.

“In fact, you are excluding from the delegation anyone who wants to be in Israel on Yom Kippur (as the prime minister, his entourage and the professionals want to do) and is not willing to violate Shabbat and fly during it.

“We look forward to finding a reliable solution as soon as possible that will allow us to return together with the prime minister, taking into account, of course, the religious correspondents taking part in the journey. The trips of prime ministers over the years have been conducted in such a way that prevented the desecration of the Sabbath. We insist that a solution be found this time as well. What is forbidden to reporters is also forbidden to the prime minister and his entourage.”

Netanyahu intends to depart Israel on the evening of Sept. 17 following the conclusion of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and land in San Francisco the next day.

While in California, he is expected to visit Silicon Valley for a tour of the tech industry. Netanyahu may also meet with X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk.

After spending the day in Silicon Valley, the prime minister will travel to New York City, arriving there on Sept. 19.

In the Big Apple, Netanyahu is slated to address the U.N. General Assembly, with his speech likely to take place on Friday morning. Netanyahu will remain in New York over Shabbat, flying back shortly before the start of Yom Kippur on the evening of Sept. 24.

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