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Gov. Abbott travels to Israel amid ongoing war with Hamas

Editor’s note: The above video shows KXAN News Today’s top morning headlines for Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott arrived Thursday morning in Israel, where his office shared he went to “reaffirm Texas’ enduring and unwavering support of the State of Israel” during its ongoing war with Hamas.

The governor’s office released a photo showing Abbott along with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. The two Republican leaders made the trip together, which they said was done in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest.

In a statement Thursday, Abbott wrote, “There is a deep, enduring bond between Texas and Israel, with the blessings of freedom and burdens of vigilance embedded in the histories of both our people. 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. I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of this horrific war and how we can continue to help Israel safeguard their freedom during this trip. Texas stands ready to offer our complete and total support to Israel in their fight against brutal terrorist organizations like Hamas.”

Abbott’s office said he will meet with Israeli leaders as well as visit with victims and families “to gain first-hand knowledge about the impacts of the Israel-Hamas war.” It’s unclear when he’ll return to Austin, where time is running short during the third special legislative session.

The international trip comes a day after an event at the governor’s mansion, where Abbott told reporters he expects the Texas House will pass legislation this session to establish education savings accounts, increase public school funding and give teachers a bonus. He expressed confidence that the 10-month impasse over his top priority will end by next week.

Last month the state’s top accountant Glenn Hegar announced the state will purchase $20 million in Israeli bonds, allowing Israel to free up cash to support the war effort. According to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, Texas has invested in Israeli bonds since 1994 and will now hold almost $100 million worth. Hegar called the move a “prudent financial decision” that will provide “a reliable return for the people of Texas.”

Additionally, Abbott announced he’s prohibiting state agencies from purchasing goods “produced in or exported from the Gaza Strip, and from any organization or state actor with ties to Hamas.” It’s not yet clear whether Texas agencies were importing products from Gaza. However, the latter half of the governor’s executive order limiting imports from “any organization or state actor with ties to Hamas” could have wider-reaching implications.

Abbott’s visit to Israel, though, comes at a time when Israeli troops are advancing toward Gaza City, and the Palestinian death toll rose above 9,000. American and Arab mediators are stepping up efforts to ease Israel’s siege of the Hamas-ruled area and called for at least a brief halt to the hostilities in order to aid civilians.

President Joe Biden suggested a humanitarian “pause,” as an apparent agreement among the U.S., Egypt, Israel and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas, allowed hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports and dozens of wounded to leave Gaza for the first time. Dozens more left on Thursday. Israel did not immediately respond to Biden’s remarks, but Netanyahu previously ruled out a cease-fire.

https://www.kxan.com/news/texas-politics/gov-abbott-travels-to-israel-amid-ongoing-war-with-hamas/ Gov. Abbott travels to Israel amid ongoing war with Hamas

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