Gov. Greg Abbott flew to Israel Saturday on a plane belonging to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and megadonor active in Republican national politics.
A spokesman for the governor confirmed that Abbott flew on Adelson’s 737 after Jewish Insider and The Dallas Morning News first reported it Monday.
Adelson is a top spender in Republican politics known for his fierce support of Israel and his friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Abbott met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss the Texas-Israeli relationship and reiterate Abbott’s opposition to Iran — a nation whose relationship with Israel has long been tense.
Abbott’s trip is being paid for by TexasOne, the state’s economic development corporation, and Adelson appeared to have loaned the aircraft free of charge.
The billionaire recently made national headlines when he was revealed to be the mysterious purchaser of The Las Vegas Review-Journal in December. He also owns the newspaper with the largest circulation in Israel, a free daily.
Adelson made political contributions totaling at least $90 million in the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and is a highly sought-after donor in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.
Abbott’s trip to Israel comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran, which on Saturday led to the lifting of economic sanctions after international inspectors found that the country had made good on promises to dismantle much of its nuclear program. Israel’s leadership under Netanyahu has opposed the deal, saying Iran’s nuclear capabilities put Israel in jeopardy.
After his stop in Israel, the governor will fly to Switzerland later this week for a stop at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. An Abbott spokesman said Monday that flight will be made on Adelson’s plane as well.