JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the United States to address Jewish leaders and meet with U.S. administration officials.
Netanyahu landed in New Orleans Sunday morning after leaving Israel the previous night on an El Al charter flight with his wife, Sara, and their son Yair, who is on an authorized leave from his army posting in the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office.
Netanyahu will speak Monday at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in New Orleans. Prior to his speech, he is scheduled to meet with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden there.
The prime minister also is scheduled to meet in New York with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice on Wednesday and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday.
"I hope that on this visit, we and the U.S. administration will find the way to advance the diplomatic process while maintaining Israel’s national and security interests," Netanyahu said upon his departure from Israel.
Netanyahu will not meet with President Obama, who is on a state visit to India.
While in New York, Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with leading media figures and senior Wall Street economists.
The flight’s cost to the Israeli government of more than $1 million has caused an uproar in Israel because El Al was chosen without a bidding process. Also, the fact that Yair Netanyahu was allowed to take a leave from the army has irritated Israelis.
Netanyahu is paying for his son’s portion of the trip because he is not part of the official entourage.