Sorry for the delay. We were wheels up from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, via helicopter, at 1:28 p.m. We were wheels down at 1:40 p.m., but Marine One has not yet landed.
Here is the report about the welcome ceremony:
POTUS and FLOTUS, dressed in a bright, white skirt suit, deplaned at 12:39 p.m. The moment was commemorated with a short trumpet honk.
The greeting for POTUS in Israel couldn't have been more different from the greeting in Saudi Arabia. The red carpet here at Ben Gurion Airport was flanked with IDF soldiers in uniform — many of them women wearing skirts that revealed their legs, and carrying machine guns. Some people in the audience were wearing white baseball caps that read: "Ever Stronger: President Trump in Israel 2017," and featured a picture of an American and an Israeli flag.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, dressed in a red dress, greeted POTUS and FLOTUS at the bottom of the stairs, along with President Rivlin and his wife.
Staffers spotted seated at the welcome ceremony: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (wearing an incredibly conservative, longsleeved outfit and a fascinator), Hope Hicks, Dina Powell, Jason Greenblatt, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller, H.R. McMaster and Ambassador Dermer.
Trump made a circuit down the carpet and around the IDF soldiers and then stood at attention next to FLOTUS and the Netanyahus for the American and the Israeli national anthems.
There were welcome remarks from Rivlin, Netanyahu and Trump, in that order, all underscoring the importance of the unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States.
Some extended excerpts. Pardon the lack of punctuation and/or caps.
Rivlin: "your visit is a symbol of the unbreakable bond between Israel and America. you are the president of Israel's greatest, most important ally. you are a true friend of Israel and of the Jewish people. mr. president — the world needs a strong United States. the Middle East needs a strong United States. Israel needs a strong united states. and may i say, the united states also needs a strong israel.
"in the middle east, an area that suffers from terrorism and madness, the partnership between the united states and israel shines like a beacon of liberty and promise the bond between us is one between states but also between people. we share common values, and we share the hope for peace. the people of israel are excited by your arrival and have great expectations for this visit. we thank you for your commitment to israel's ability to face the threats of today and of tomorrow."
"mr. president, today i will have the honor to host you in jerusalem. we are honored to have you here with us as we mark 50 years of jerusalem day.... jerusalem is the beating heart of the jewish people as it has been for 3,000 years. mr. president, you come here to israel from saudi arabia. you will be at the western wall and visit the holy church and then you are going to the vatican. in just one journey you will visit the three holiest places for islam, judaism and christianity. we each have different beliefs, but more importantly the same god. we can work together toward a better future, we can continue to do so together mr. president.
"welcome to israel. god bless you, god bless the first lady, god bless america, god bless israel."
Netanyahu welcome remarks extended excerpt:
"Never before has the first foreign trip of a president of the united states included a visit to israel. thank you mr. president, thank you for this powerful expression of your friendship to israel. yesterday in Saudi Arabia you delivered a forceful speech of clarity and conviction. you called on all nations to drive out terrorists and extremists, you called for the forces of civilization to confront the forces of barbarism. for 69 years, israel has been doing precisely that. we've been on the front lines...we've fought terrorism, and we've built a modern vibrant democratic jewish state. in doing so we've protected all faiths: muslims, christians everyone. throughout the middle east, christian communities are decimated, minorities persecuted. here in israel, we're proud to have growing and thriving christian communities. and we guarantee the rights of all.
"we've already made peace with egypt. ..israels hand is extend to all nations, including the palestinains. ... mr. president, you just flew from riyadh to tel aviv, i hope that one day an israeli prime minster will be able to fly from tel aviv to riyadh. may your first trip to our region prove to be historic...
"donald and melania, on behalf of the government and the people of israel we welcome you to the state of israel may god bless you mr. president may god bless israel and may god bless the united states of america."
Trump remarks, extended excerpts:
"Thank you and shalom. it is wonderful to be here in israel.
to president rivlin, mrs rivlin, PM netanyau, mrs netanyahu, i'm deeply grateful for your invitation and very, very honored to be with you....i have come to the sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the state of Israel. in this land so rich in history, israel has built one of the worlds great civilizations, a strong, resilient determined and prosperous nation. it is also a nation forged in the commitment that we will never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated. "
He said he wants to help "build a future where the nations of the region are at peace and all of our children can grow, and grow up strong, and grow up free from terrorism and violence."
In Saudi Arabia, he said, "i have found new reasons for hope. just concluded a visit to Saudi Arabia. yesterday i met with king Salmon and with the leaders from across the muslim and arab world. in that visit, we reached historic agreements to pursue greater and greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism. ...we have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people. defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace."
Pool was ushered to the copters before Trump was finished with his remarks.