Whitmer takes Israeli trade mission trip as Legislature rests

Image by Ekaterina Vysotina from Pixabay

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is spending the first week of a traditional hunting break for the state Legislature by taking a trade mission to Israel. 

Whitmer flew to Israel over the weekend and will be in the Middle Eastern country until Sunday, making visits in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, Whitmer’s office announced on Sunday. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Derek Robertson

The governor’s first trade mission since taking office in January will include meetings with Ambassador David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel; visits to General Motors and Ford Motor Co. facilities in the country; and learning about Israel’s startup economy, in addition to several other tours and meetings, according to an itinerary released by the governor’s office. 

“I’m proud to continue the decades-long tradition of Michigan governors traveling to Israel to deepen our relationship,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“Throughout this trip, I’ll have the opportunity to meet with leaders who share my dedication to solidifying Michigan as a leader in mobility, technology, and startups,” Whitmer continued. “I look forward to a number of productive conversations on how we can strengthen our ties with our partners overseas and help attract more businesses and jobs to Michigan.” 

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Whitmer’s trip to Israel comes as the Legislature is on a break until the first week of December. The governor and GOP legislative leaders remain at an impasse over a supplemental budget, with Republicans insisting that the governor agree to give up certain executive office powers, which Whitmer has resisted. 

Israel has had a tumultuous last week, completing airstrikes in Gaza in the Palestinian territories. A new Israeli government also has not yet been formed after September elections. 

In August, Israel banned U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) from traveling there. After the backlash, the government relented, but the Palestinian-American congresswoman ultiimately declined to visit.

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Whitmer’s predecessor, Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder, took more than two dozen “foreign investment” trips abroad during his eight years in office, which included trips to Israel, Europe and Asia. 

“We’re telling the Pure Michigan story of Michigan’s continued economic growth and leadership in the mobility sector,” Snyder said in a September 2018 statement, having returned from a trip to China. “We are making the case that there is no better place in North America for Chinese companies to expand and create jobs than in Michigan.”