Christie sees business benefit from Israel trip

Gov. Christie (left) with Israeli President Shimon Peres during Christie's visit to Israel. A trip to the Holy Land is traditional for New Jersey governors. ODED BALILTY / Associated Press
Gov. Christie (left) with Israeli President Shimon Peres during Christie's visit to Israel. A trip to the Holy Land is traditional for New Jersey governors. ODED BALILTY / Associated Press (Gov. Christie (left))

He said diplomatic ties would strengthen as well. He also will meet with Jordan's king.

Posted: April 05, 2012

Gov. Christie said Wednesday that his visit to Israel, where he has met this week with that nation's top leaders, will help strengthen diplomatic ties and drum up business back home.

The Republican said he was confident his talks with Israeli business and political leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, would pay off for New Jersey.

"I think we'll see a lot come out of it from an economic perspective and a diplomatic perspective," Christie said Wednesday from the Sea of Galilee in a teleconference with U.S. reporters.

Christie has had an exhaustive schedule of meetings, sightseeing, and tours since landing in Israel on Monday. His itinerary has included visits with Netanyahu on Monday, Peres on Tuesday, and U.S. Ambassador David Shapiro on Wednesday.

With the trip being billed primarily as a trade mission, Christie has devoted a portion of his daily schedule to promoting business opportunities in New Jersey.

He toured a drug company interested in expanding in New Jersey, then signed a letter of cooperation with the firm, Teva Pharmaceuticals, to continue the talks.

In Jerusalem, he visited an electric carmaker whose No. 2 executive lives half the time in New Jersey. He also discussed economic opportunities with Shapiro and the Israeli leaders.

Christie said the trip had been eye-opening. He said he had gained a better understanding of what he called Israel's "extraordinary security challenges" and said it had been a moving experience to visit the birthplace of his Catholic faith during the days leading up to Easter.

He said his children had occasionally become wide-eyed upon seeing ancient places they had heard or read about.

Christie brushed aside speculation that the trip was to burnish his credentials in a quest for national office, and the governor dismissed as "unfortunate" a newspaper headline mocking his girth in a photo taken at Jerusalem's Western Wall.

By visiting Israel, Christie is continuing a gubernatorial tradition started in the 1980s by then-Gov. Thomas H. Kean. While at least one prior governor, Christie Whitman, is said to have taken along a delegation of more than 50 people, Christie said he kept the number to 13 business and religious leaders.

"We really wanted these meetings to be intimate and useful," he said. "I wasn't looking to put on a show of force here."

Christie and his family head to the Golan Heights on Thursday before traveling to Jordan to meet King Abdullah II. They are due back in the United States on Sunday.

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