De Blasio Announces He Will Visit Israel Next Week

NEW YORK -

Mayor Bill de Blasio will visit Israel next week for a two-day trip, the first visit as mayor to the country he has passionately defended to his progressive base, his spokeswoman announced on Thursday.

The visit is being paid for by a private Israeli citizen, said spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick. However, the mayor will tend to some governmental business as well, keynoting the Annual Conference of Mayors.

The Conference is hosted by the American Jewish Congress, American Council for World Jewry and World Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry, and will bring together dozens of mayors from around the world. The mayor will speak on how cities can lead on anti-Semitism in the West.

While security costs for the trip will be covered by the NYPD, Israeli entrepreneur Baruch Eliezer Gross is paying for the travel and hotel bills.

Since taking office in January 2014, de Blasio has repeatedly said he would visit Israel. Recently, he promised that the visit would take place in 2015.

The mayor has emerged as a consistent defender of Israel in the United States, even as he faced a backlash from the progressive movement which elected him.