Although the exact dates that U.S. President George W. Bush will visit each planned location on his upcoming 8-16 January 2008 Middle East trip have not been announced, Israeli officials have announced security measures that are expected to cause crippling transportation disruptions during Bush’s visit to Israel. Israel and the Palestinian Authority will likely be among the first destinations during the trip before Bush travels on to other Middle East locations, including Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. During the two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Bush is expected to meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem and hold a quick meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In light of the visit, tens of thousands of security personnel will be deployed throughout Israel, with a heavier presence concentrated in Jerusalem. The security deployment in Israel will be the second largest ever, only topped by that of the 2005 Gaza evacuation. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (LLBG/TLV) will be closed down when Bush arrives, and the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will be completely closed to all civilian traffic while his convoy travels from the airport to Jerusalem. However, exact times that the closures will take place have not been announced. Travelers should anticipate extensive travel and transportation delays in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. While in Ramallah, thousands of Palestinian security forces will be deployed. Local roads will likely be closed or partially blocked to civilian traffic.