Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will not travel to Israel and the West Bank next week as planned, steering clear of the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip.
As questions had begun to mount about the trade mission planned in September, O’Malley said in a statement Tuesday that he feared the trip could be a “distraction from the urgent cause of peace.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was dispatched to Israel Tuesday in an apparent attempt to head off an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, a step that would mark a major escalation of the week-old conflict in which 113 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed.
“For now, we join with our Israeli and Palestinian neighbors in praying for a cease-fire and peaceful resolution to the conflict,” O’Malley said.
The trip, which The Jewish Week recently wrote about questioning if it was O’Malley’s “first stop” in a bid for the White House in 2016, was scheduled to take O’Malley and an entourage of Maryland business leaders to Israel, Jordan and Ramallah in the Palestinian West Bank.