I’m one of the reporters covering Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first-ever trip to Israel. After we boarded the plane out of Ottawa Saturday night, we were given hard copies of the list I’ve posted above. I used by iPad and the app “Scanner Pro” to create this document. It’s 8 pages long and there are 208 individuals listed here as part of the “Israel – Accompanying Party.”
A couple of points about this list:
- Many, but not all, travelled with the Prime Minister out of Ottawa on RCAF 01 and would have done so at no cost. Technically, that means the taxpayer is paying their airfare but, on the other hand, RCAF 01 is going whether or not someone is in the seats. So the plane is already a bit of a sunk cost so far as the taxpayer goes. Many of those on the list travelled on their own dime to Israel ahead of the visit.
- Many, but not all I’m told, would have had some or all of their hotel bill while in Israel covered by the taxpayer.
- There are 208 names on this list but that is by no means the complete list of those who travelled on RCAF 01 or who are accompanying the PM in Israel. There also:
- Several cabinet ministers
- Several MPs
- At least two Senators
- About 14 members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery (each of whom are paying $8,000 to cover the costs of airfare, hotel, and ground transport through Israel and Jordan this week)
- Privy Council Office advisors and support staff.
- Officials with the Prime Minister’s Office including Chief of Staff Ray Novak and relatively new Communications Director Jason MacDonald.
- Members of the RCMP protective security detail (I would guess about 20?)
So what are we doing while we’re in Israel? Here’s the public itinerary to this point (mid-day ET on Sunday) for the Israel portion of the trip.
SUNDAY JAN 19 (All times ET)
- 0800 Harper arrives at David Ben Gurion Airport; is greeted by Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman
- 0900 PM and Mrs. Harper visit the Mount of Olives
- 1100 PM and Mrs. Harper are officially welcomed at a ceremony at PM Netanyahu’s office.
MON JAN 20 (Jerusalem-Bethlehem-Ramallah)
- 0205 – PM and Mrs. Harper visit the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
- 0400 – PM and Mrs. Harper officially welcomed to the Presidential Compound, Ramallah
- 0415 – PM Harper meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
- 0515 – Joint statements by Harper and Abbas
- 1030 – PM arrives at the Knesset and is officially welcomed.
- 1100 – PM delivers speech to Knesset
TUE JAN 21 (Jerusalem)
- 0100 – PM Harper meets Israel Pres Shimon Peres
- 0230 – PM Harper meets PM Netanyahu
- 0500 – PM Harper and PM Netanyahu make joint statement to the press
- 0800 – PM Harper visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
- 0930 – PM Harper visits the Western Wall
WED JAN 22 (Jerusalem-Hula Valley-Tel Aviv-Jordan)
- Time TBD PM Harper will visit a bird sanctuary to be named in his honour and will also visit Galilee and Capernaum.
- 1120 – PM Harper receives honorary degree, participates in moderated Q&A at Tel Aviv University
- 1330 – Travels by air from Tel Aviv to Amman, Jordan