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De Blasio to visit Israel next week

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at Bronx Latin School on Sept. 16, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Mayor Bill de Blasio will visit Israel late next week to speak about anti-Semitism and security challenges faced by cities, and the trip will be paid for by an Israeli entrepreneur as a gift to New York City, his office said Thursday.

De Blasio, who speaks frequently of the city's bond with Israel, will participate in a Jerusalem conference called "Anti-Semitism in the West: How Cities Must Lead," his office said.

De Blasio will be in Israel from Oct. 16 through Oct. 18. It will be his first trip to the Jewish state as mayor, but he has made three previous trips to Israel.

His travel and lodging costs and those of the staff members who accompany him will be covered by Baruch Eliezer Gross, an Israeli businessman with a Brooklyn company that makes personal rescue devices for use in case of high-rise fires, de Blasio's spokeswoman and Gross' spokesman said.

Security costs will be covered by the NYPD, the mayor's office said.

The event will be attended by other mayors from around the world.

It is hosted by American Jewish Congress, American Council for World Jewry and World Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry.

Gross, who founded the Jerusalem-based Besadno Investment Group, an incubator and start-up firm, said in a statement Thursday, "New York City can provide other cities with a model for protecting all communities against hate."

The city's Conflict of Interest Board approved the funding of the trip as consistent with its rules.

De Blasio told reporters in March after violence that targeted Jews in France that he would travel to Israel to focus on "the need for European governments to step up and do a better job of protecting their Jewish communities."

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