SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert canceled plans Tuesday for a trade mission to Israel next month, citing the security risks of traveling to the Middle East nation during the ongoing deadly confrontation in Gaza.
"We recognize conditions are unstable and less than ideal for our purposes on a state-led trade mission," the governor said in a statement. "We earnestly hope and pray for a peaceful resolution for all people in the region."
The trip was initially scheduled for Dec. 8-14 with stops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. About 60 people had signed up to participate, said Michael Sullivan, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
It would have been the first Utah trade mission to Israel. The office said the governor is committed to eventually making the trip and an effort will be made to reschedule the trade mission.
Sullivan said earlier Tuesday that some of the business and government representatives were still interested in making the trip despite the rocket attacks and troops assembling in Gaza. Many had already arranged meetings with their Israeli counterparts.
"A trade mission is not simply a bunch of people who go and smile and shake hands," Sullivan said.
The proposed itinerary for the trip had included a U.S. Embassy briefing and reception in Tel Aviv, a U.S. Consulate briefing in Jerusalem, and business meetings in both cities, including those set up through the embassy for a fee.
The costs for the trip were listed at $3,500, not including the government fees for meetings. Zions Bank was sponsoring the trade mission, which was targeting biomedical and high-tech companies.
According to World Trade Center Utah, the state has exported $37 million in goods to Israel this year through September. Most of the exports, some $25.6 million worth, were medical devices and other manufactured items, and about $3 million in goods were related to technology.