Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will be visiting Israel this week, Politico.com reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Barbour’s trip will take place from February 5 to 9 and will be sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), which made the announcement about the trip on its website.
During the trip, Barbour will hold meetings with senior leaders in Israel, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and tour important sites in the country. He is also scheduled to visit the Noble Energy offshore gas rig and the Better Place electric car facility outside Tel Aviv, this due to his interest in energy. The trip will conclude with Barbour making what the RJC called “a major address” at the Herzliya Conference on February 9.
The trip is likely to bolster Barbour’s foreign policy credentials, Politico reported. Barbour has openly speculated about taking a shot at running for the presidency of the U.S. as the Republican candidate.
“We are especially pleased that Governor and Mrs. Barbour will visit Israel at this incredibly important time,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in the announcement. “The Middle East faces many challenges, from the instability in Lebanon and Egypt and the threat of a nuclear Iran to the continuing danger posed by Hamas in Gaza. As Iran and its proxies attempt to expand their reach in the region, it is vitally important that American and Israeli officials build and nurture a strong partnership in the fight against terrorism.
“This visit will give Governor Barbour the opportunity to learn more about the difficulties facing Israel, about the current thinking of Israel's political, military, and economic leaders, and about the Jewish state's exciting advancements in the development of new technologies,” added Brooks.
Barbour has served as Governor of Mississippi since 2004. Prior to being elected governor he worked as a lawyer and lobbyist and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997. It was during that time period, in 1994, that he first visited Israel, a visit which was also sponsored by the RJC.
Barbour will be the third potential Republican presidential candidate to visit Israel in recent weeks. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney visited the region last month and met with Netanyahu. The two discussed the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Iranian threat.
Earlier this week, Republican presidential frontrunner Mike Huckabee toured the region. Huckabee visited the Knesset where he warned that Islamic fundamentalism could threaten not only Israel, but also the entire world. He also said that if he were elected president he would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.