Gov. Greg Abbott travels to Israel to offer Texas’ support in war

Governor Greg Abbott condemns the recent attacks on Israel during a community gathering in support of Israel at the Congregation Agudas Achim Oct. 9, 2023, in Austin. (Evan L'Roy For The Texas Tribune, Evan L'Roy For The Texas Tribune)

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday morning announced that he flew overnight to Israel to reaffirm Texas’ support for the Middle Eastern nation.

Abbott, joined by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a fellow Republican, said in a statement that he wanted to learn more about how Texas can assist Israel in its war against Hamas. The militant group, based in Gaza, killed more than 1,400 Israelis in a surprise attack Oct. 7.

“Unfortunately, never has freedom in Israel been more threatened than it is right now — and the people of Israel are vigorously fighting to defend it,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texas stands ready to offer our complete and total support to Israel in their fight against brutal terrorist organizations like Hamas."

[Relatives of Texans, Jewish and Muslim, remain trapped in Gaza]

Abbott said he will meet with Israeli officials and visit with victims. His office released a photo of the governors and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the Associated Press, more than 9,000 Palestinians have died and at least 32,000 have been wounded during the Israel-Hamas war.

Abbott’s unannounced trip came as the third special legislative session he called unraveled over disagreements on school vouchers, the governor’s top priority.

[With time running out, House punts on taking action on school vouchers]

Though Abbott said Wednesday morning that he believed the Texas House would pass a voucher bill before the session ends next Tuesday, the House hours later signaled it has no plans to work on such a bill. House Speaker Dade Phelan recessed the chamber, likely until Monday or Tuesday, pending the Senate’s approval of several House bills related to border security.

Abbott did not immediately respond to questions Thursday morning about why he would leave the state if he believed the passage of a major piece of legislation was imminent.

His statement said the trip was coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest. It is Abbott’s third trip to Israel since he was elected in 2014.