By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Likely presidential candidate Scott Walker will meet Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs and tour strategic and historic sites during his first trip to Israel.
Walker’s committee raising money ahead of his expected White House run, Our American Revival, released new details about the Wisconsin governor’s five-day trip on Thursday.
Walker has no public events planned for the Israel trip that runs from Saturday to May 14. Walker has billed it as a “listening tour,” where he plans to meet with government officials and others to learn more about the Middle East.
Walker told reporters in Milwaukee that only staff and advisers are going on the trip.
“It’s an educational trip. It’s not a photo op,” he said. “We’re not bringing donors, we’re really just bringing staff and people who work with us on national security and foreign policy issues.”
Walker said he expects to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Our American Revival said Walker plans to make a helicopter tour of “various historical and strategically significant sites,” and that he also expects to visit religious sites.
The visit is being funded by Our American Revival and the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Walker originally said it would be a taxpayer-funded trade mission, but reversed course after determining that his work would be primarily political. Walker has not officially declared his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, saying he will announce his decision after the state budget passes, likely in June.
Given its relationship as a close U.S. ally, and its central role in Middle Eastern relations, Israel is a frequent destination for U.S. politicians, including those running for president.
Walker has hired foreign policy advisers and increased his overseas travels as he tries to bolster his resume in that area, a point of potential weakness compared with other potential Republican presidential hopefuls. He’s already made trade missions to the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain this year. He’s leaving for Israel from South Carolina, where he is speaking at an event that’s attracting numerous potential Republican presidential candidates.
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