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ALBANY _ Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo got a little criticism and a little support from his opponents as he left Albany amid an election-year conflict involving his corruption commission to lead a goodwill visit to Israel.
“I think the timing is a little suspect, but anything that shows unity between the U.S. and Israel is a good thing,” said Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino in an interview. “So I think having New York leaders go to Israel is fine with me. I learned a lot when I was there.”
Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said he spent seven days in Israel in 2012 near Gaza. He said a police chief showed him 10,000 spent rockets that landed in Israel.
“What we don’t want is innocent lives to be taken, on either side,” he said. “But we can’t misunderstand this is a terrorist organization that wants to destroy Israel ... and we have to stand firm with her.”
Cuomo, Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and other legislative leaders are headed to Israel to show support for the battle-weary country and the New Yorkers living in it.
“I hope he has a good trip, and I look forward to engaging in a debate when he gets back,” said Zephyr Teachout, Cuomo’s opponent in the Democratic primary in September.
Cuomo so far won’t commit to any debates.
“The Democrats and Republicans have proved themselves incapable of being an honest broker for peace,” said Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. “They blindly stand with Israel no matter how outrageous its crimes against the Palestinian people.”
Hawkins criticized Cuomo for leaving Albany during a conflict that has eroded some of Cuomo’s popularity and cut into his still huge lead in the polls. Cuomo has been accused in press reports of interfering with the Moreland Commission on corruption as it sought to investigate his allies. Cuomo, however, said he considered the interaction necessary advice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating.
“As governor, he should be facing up to his interference with the Moreland Commission,” Hawkins said. “This seems like just another bad attempt to change the topic.”