New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a delegation of state legislative leaders are scheduled to fly to Israel this week in the governor's first international trip since taking office in 2011, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.Mr. Cuomo and leaders including state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Coalition co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey D. Klein are set to travel Tuesday night on a commercial flight to Tel Aviv as a "demonstration of solidarity" with Israelis during the continuing conflict between the nation and Palestinians, this person said.During the two-day trip, the Democratic governor is expected to meet with Israeli government officials as well as with individuals affected by the conflict, including New Yorkers who are living in the country, this person said.It wasn't immediately clear whether Mr. Cuomo would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last month invited the governor to make the journey.
The trip serves a political purpose, of course, since New York has the largest population of Jews outside of Israel.
But it can also serve a legal purpose too, like when he gets back and says:
I was in Israel.
Actually I think the bigger reason for the trip is this:
Mr. Cuomo, who is said to have national political aspirations and faces re-election in the fall, would likely earn international attention for the trip. It also would distract from a difficult few weeks at home, as headlines for the first-term governor have focused on a controversy involving his administration's handling of an anticorruption commission.It also would give Mr. Cuomo a credential common to ambitious governors. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2012 traveled on a "Jersey to Jerusalem Trade Mission," where he visited the Western Wall and met with Mr. Netanyahu.Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry has visited the country several times, most recently in the fall of 2013.
That's what this is about - giving him a chance to get some "international politics" headlines.Mr. Cuomo, however, has traveled beyond the borders of New York state only a handful of times since taking office. He hasn't visited Israel since 2002, during his first (unsuccessful) gubernatorial bid.