Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew Tuesday from Washington, D.C., to California — trading a focus on the geopolitics of the Middle East for a Hollywood screening and visits with Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs.
Netanyahu's two-day schedule included the viewing in Los Angeles of a television documentary featuring him, and a jaunt north to meet with tech executives.
The trip is the first time since 2006 that a sitting Israeli prime minister has visited California. It should offer Netanyahu a break from weighty discussions in Washington, where President Barack Obama challenged the Israeli leader on Monday to make "tough decisions" to salvage an elusive Middle East peace plan with Palestinians.
In a speech Tuesday before his flight west, Netanyahu reiterated his position that Western nations should increase pressure on Iran and its nuclear program. In Los Angeles, he planned to meet with local Jewish leaders before watching the television documentary "Israel: The Royal Tour." The show is described as "an all-access pass into — and across — the entire country, led by the one man who knows it best."
On Wednesday, Netanyahu is scheduled to travel north to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he will meet with Gov. Jerry Brown. The two men plan to sign an agreement to expand cooperation between Israel and California, according to the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, including areas such as water conservation, alternative energy, agriculture and cyber security.
Netanyahu then is scheduled to visit Apple and WhatsApp, the free messaging service recently bought by Facebook that is widely used in Israel and elsewhere. Israel is a high-tech powerhouse and many tech giants — including Apple, Google and Microsoft — have made investments there by buying companies or conducting research and development.
Netanyahu is scheduled to return to Los Angeles on Wednesday before leaving Thursday, following a morning speech at the Museum of Tolerance.