New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is upholding his family’s tradition of supporting Israel by visiting the Jewish state in a show of unity over the month-old Gaza conflict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu, speaking today in Jerusalem at a news briefing with Cuomo, said he “remembered fondly” how Cuomo’s father, three-term Governor Mario Cuomo, stood with Israel in the 1980s when Netanyahu was ambassador to the United Nations.
“The first thing I want you to do is send warmest regards to your father,” said Netanyahu, 64, according to a transcript provided by his office.
Cuomo, a 56-year-old Democrat, is leading a delegation of New York lawmakers on a two-day trip to Israel. The governor said New York understands the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The U.S. and European Union label Hamas a terrorist organization.
“We have a special sensitivity in our hearts for what you’re going through now,” Cuomo said, according to the transcript.
Cuomo, considered a potential presidential candidate, has rarely left New York and hasn’t traveled internationally at all since becoming governor in 2011. New York is home to 1.7 million Jews, the largest community in the world outside of Israel. He visited the country four times before becoming governor.
The trip takes Cuomo away from the Empire State while his administration faces an investigation by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara over the shuttering of an anti-corruption panel that the governor created.
It’s also an election year for Cuomo. He’s fending off a Democratic primary challenge from Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor. Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is also vying for the job in November.
Cuomo began planning a trip last month, seeking a way to tighten business relations between the third-most-populous U.S. state and Israel.
Israel opened its military campaign on the Gaza Strip on July 8 with the stated aims of quashing rocket fire and destroying dozens of tunnels that militants built to carry out cross-border raids. More than 1,900 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, have been killed in the conflict, according to Gaza health officials, and 67 people have died on the Israeli side.
Israel and Hamas are engaged in indirect talks in Cairo toward reaching a long-term deal on Gaza.
Last month, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Israel to protest a Federal Aviation Administration ban that was later lifted on U.S. carriers flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.
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