JERUSALEM (AP) — President Donald Trump got an abrupt Israeli welcome on his arrival in Tel Aviv on Monday, with ministers asking favors and snapping selfies as they sought to get a piece of the commander in chief’s attention.
Lawmaker Oren Hazan, a politician in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party with a reputation for inappropriate antics, gave Trump a version of his own characteristically aggressive handshake.
Hazan then whipped out a cell phone and took a selfie of the unamused-looking president. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted, unsuccessfully, to swat Hazan’s arm away.
The photo with Hazan represents a potential embarrassment for Netanyahu and the Likud party because of Hazan’s troubled reputation. In 2015, Hazan was suspended as deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament after a report alleged he was involved in the drug and sex trade while operating a casino in Bulgaria.
Earlier this month Hazan was also forced to pay a $416 USD fine and had his license suspended 30 days after police say he was caught driving 52 kilometres above the speed limit.
Likud politicians said after the incident that Hazan wasn’t invited to the welcome ceremony, and that he “caused a great embarrassment to Netanyahu.” A television commentator called the scene “a disgrace.”
“Unfortunately, a number of people who were not included on the list of senior staff snuck into the handshake row and despite the entreaties of the Foreign Ministry staff, refused to leave the line,” Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said in a statement to the Times of Israel, without naming Hazan specifically.
Hazan later posted the photo to Twitter with the message “Thank you Mr. President — it was my pleasure!”
U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Israel on Monday on the second leg of his first overseas trip since entering office, and said he had new reasons to hope for peace and stability to the Middle East after his visit to Saudi Arabia.
In a stopover lasting 28 hours, Trump is to meet separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Later on Monday, he will pray at Judaism’s Western Wall and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and on Tuesday he will travel to Bethlehem.
-With files from Global News’ Elton Hobson and Ilan Ben Zion of the Associated Press
© 2017 The Associated Press