Obama's tree gift to Peres to be uprooted

Mar 22, 2013, 01:57 IST | Agencies

The magnolia tree � a present to the Israel President � will be tested and possibly removed in a week by the Israeli Agriculture Department for fear of germs

It’s an old gospel song: Just like a tree planted by the water, I shall not be moved. But if you’re the magnolia tree the president of the United States planted in Jerusalem, there’s a chance you might be moved.

Obama planted a tree on Wednesday in Israeli President Shimon Peres’s Jerusalem garden. It’s a gift for a man Obama said has planted “the seeds of progress, the seeds of security, the seeds of peace — all the seeds that have helped not only Israel grow but also the relationship between our two nations grow.”

Plant for peace: US President Barack Obama takes part in a tree planting ceremony with Israeli President Shimon Peres at his residence. Pic/AFP

The tree was meant to signify the strong roots of the relationship between the United States and Israel. But before these American roots can take hold, the Israeli government will inspect them.

An Israeli official said that the magnolia tree will be tested and possibly removed in a week by the Israeli Agriculture Department. The roots of the tree were apparently kept in a plastic covering during the planting. As in the US, Israeli law forbids plants and trees from other countries from entering Israel.

A White House official confirms that the tree given to Peres was grown from a set of seeds from the original Jackson Magnolia alongside the Rose Garden on the South Lawn of the White House.

It was planted in the 1830s by President Andrew Jackson. An official says it is the oldest known presidential tree on the grounds of the White House.

However, there’s good news for Obama’s magnolia tree: If removed for testing, it is expected to be replanted in the same spot. It’s currently near a tree given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during his 2009 trip to the Holy Land. An official said the tree didn’t undergo any testing because it was purchased in Israel.

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