Politics are taking a back seat to body language on President Donald Trump's visit to the Middle East and the Vatican (video below).
First Lady Melania Trump has caused a sensation by appearing to snub the president's hand-holding attempts, reports the Daily Mail.
On May 23, as they deplaned from Air Force One at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, the president reached down to grab his wife's hand, but she pulled it away before he got the chance. He had to settle for placing his hand innocently on her backside as they walked down the stairs to the tarmac.
However, that apparent snub was minor compared to the one that caught the world's attention when the couple visited Israel the day prior.
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After landing in Tel Aviv, the Trumps received a formal welcoming ceremony headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. As the Trumps and the Netanyahus walked the red carpet following, Mr. Trump reached for Melania's hand, but she appeared to swat his hand away with a quick flick of her wrist.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz declared the incident "embarrassing," posting a slow motion clip of the scene on its Twitter account, which has since been re-tweeted 30,000 times, reports CNN.
However, CNN goes on to note that the Trumps were seen holding hands on a few occasions during this trip, including once at the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Saudi Arabia, also at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Mr. Trump and his wife were also involved in a "four-way handshake" with the Netanyahus, and shared a brief "finger hug" before leaving the airport via helicopter, notes the Daily Mail.
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In April, Mr. Trump was accused of snubbing Melania as they deplaned Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida. On that occasion, the president was photographed at the bottom of the airplane’s stairs, while Melania was still descending, as reported by The Huffington Post.
"When a man and woman are coming down the stairs the man would go before her," explained etiquette specialist Jacqueline Whitmore at the time. "The logic being that if she trips or falls, the man (generally being larger or stronger) would be in a position to catch her."
Leaving Melania at the top of the stairs "could be perceived as a sign of disrespect," she added. "In the photographs, what we’re clearly seeing is that Donald Trump is walking not just one stair ahead, not two stairs ahead, but a few feet ahead. She’s not being accompanied by him."
Another etiquette authority, Elaine Swann, drew similar conclusions. "The husband at the bottom of the stairs, saluting and greeting the people there, and the wife is still at the top of the stairs -- this is incorrect," she asserted. "The proper thing for him to do is to wait for his spouse at the bottom of the stairs and then take her hand and assist her down the last few steps as she comes down."