Arizona House lawmakers take time off to visit Israel

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2024 - 5:32pm

Seventeen Arizona House lawmakers are taking a trip to Israel in March, putting a pause on the chamber’s work.

The all-expenses paid trip is funded by a nonprofit called itrek and was organized by Democratic Rep. Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson), a self-described Jewish Zionist. 

As first reported by the Arizona Agenda, the delegation includes seven Democrats and 10 Republicans, including House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria), who defended the decision to travel during the session’s busy season.

“In terms of Israel, I do think it’s important to actually see, and there is an opportunity to actually see what's happening there, what really happened," Toma said. 

Toma, a West Valley representative running for Congress, said the trip is not related to his campaign, and cited Arizona’s history of trade relationships with Israel.

No one from the state Senate is traveling with the delegation.

“It’s in the middle of session. No senators are going that I’m aware of,” Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) said in a text. 

The trip is scheduled to take place between March 6-10. 

Toma and Hernandez are among the most vocal Israel supporters in the Legislature and voted for a pro-Israel resolution earlier this session, but some lawmakers support a ceasefire in Gaza.