A delegation of City Council members will leave for Israel upon the completion of the city budget process, Speaker Gifford Miller announced Sunday.
"We’re going to show that we as New Yorkers understand [the situation in Israel] and we want to be supportive in any way we can," Miller told several hundred Jewish community leaders and elected officials at the annual breakfast of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
The mission is being arranged by the UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council. The JCRC’s executive vice president, Michael Miller, who is not related to Gifford Miller, said he did not expect the itinerary to include meetings with Palestinian leaders.
"Our objective is for them to meet with the Israeli leadership," said Michael Miller.
Gifford Miller noted that he participated in a 2000 Israel mission organized by UJA-Federation. "Now that I’ve been elected speaker, I think it’s critical that I and my fellow Council members return again," he said.
"There may not be much optimism now, but there is confidence will overcome this struggle, and ensure that the people of New York and the people of Israel have the right to live free of violence and free of terrorism."
The announcement comes at a time when the speaker has been under pressure from some Council members and Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale to allow a vote on a resolution calling for the closure of Palestinian diplomatic offices in New York. Deferring to a request from the State Department, Miller tabled the measure.
The JCRC’s Miller said the visit "will provide a boost to Israel’s leadership and citizenry during this difficult time."
A virtual who’s who of New York political leaders have visited Israel in the past year, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. George Pataki, state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and lieutenant governor hopeful Charlie King.