Cuomo Leaving for Israel Offers Support of New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo is leading a delegation of legislative leaders to Israel in a show of unity over the month-old Gaza conflict and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the two-day trip.

“Our message is clear: We stand with Israel and we support Israel’s right to defend itself,” Cuomo said today at a news briefing before departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Cuomo, a 56-year-old Democrat 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.

While Cuomo was invited to expand his itinerary with a visit to the Palestinian territories, the governor said “there’s not a lot of flexibility in this trip.”

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.

Rockets, Tunnels

Israel opened its military campaign on the Gaza Strip on July 8 with the stated aims of quashing rocket fire and destroying dozens of infiltration 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 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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