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September 19, 2014

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Israeli leader makes Hollywood stop for film premiere

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AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and his wife, Sara, arrive for the screening of the television documentary “Israel: The Royal Tour” at Paramount Studios on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a brief Hollywood break from geopolitics on his rare two-day trip to California, appearing Tuesday night at the premiere of a television documentary he's featured in.

"Am I at the Oscars?" Netanyahu joked, drawing a laugh as he spoke to a group of several hundred local dignitaries and philanthropists just two days after and 2 miles away from Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony.

His talk preceded the premiere of "Israel: The Royal Tour," the latest in a CBS series where heads of state give the network's travel editor Peter Greenberg a televised tour of their countries.

It includes Netanyahu rafting down the Jordan River and injuring himself playing soccer with children.

"I was ready to sacrifice body and limb for it," the prime minister said. "I tore my Achilles heel playing soccer in a game between Jewish kids and Arab kids."

Netanyahu, joined by wife Sara, said the documentary "shows a side of Israel that needs to be shown" and that he hoped it would "dispel the various calumnies about the state of Israel and show the real face of the Jewish state."

He flew from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles earlier in the day for the first part of a two-day trip to California that includes a jaunt north to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet with Silicon Valley executives and Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.

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.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu and Brown plan to sign an agreement to expand cooperation between Israel and California, according to the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, including in 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.

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