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Tree Obama gifted to Israel 'dug up' by order of agriculture ministry


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President Obama and Israeli president Shimon Peres at a magnolia tree planting ceremony earlier today. Photograph: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/EPA


After the earlier indignity of the presidential limo breakdown, there are now reports of another snafu to hit Barack Obama's visit to Israel.


The tree brought as a gift to Israel by Obama, and planted earlier on Wednesday, is now said to have been dug up.


The Times of Israel quotes the Israeli news website Ynet saying that the magnolia tree, planted by Obama and Israeli president Shimon Peres, had not undergone the requisite checks.


According to the Times of Israel:


Ynet is reporting that by order of the Agriculture Ministry, the magnolia tree brought from the US by the president and planted by Obama and Peres earlier this afternoon is being dug up. Really.


Plants cannot be brought in from abroad "without undergoing a check" by the ministry, the report quotes the bureaucrats as saying. If this were April 1, we'd assume this was a wind-up.


Maariv quoted Ayelet Frish, a spokesman for the Israeli president's office, as saying there was no diplomatic gaffe and that Israel had been aware of the Obama's plans to bring the tree on Air Force One in advance.


Ynet quoted an agriculture ministry spokesman as saying the examination of the tree could take months. The spokesman said that the tree had been planted in a pot – apparently so it could be easily removed.


According to the LA Times, Obama said at the tree-planting ceremony: "It is an incredible honor to offer this tree to this beautiful garden, and to someone who is champion of the Israeli people and a champion of peace ... And we're very good gardeners."

The Blaze said Obama went on to say: "I'm sure this tree is going to do great."


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