JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Leading Republican Sarah Palin toured Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Sunday as she began a two-day, private visit to Israel.
She also planned on meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her first trip to the Jewish state to discuss key issues facing the U.S. ally.
Palin, a 2008 vice presidential candidate, is a potential White House contender in 2012 and a leading light in the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement.
Together with the rabbi who oversees the Jewish holy site in Jerusalem’s old city, Palin toured the tunnels beneath the Western Wall, which are remains of a Roman-era Temple.
“As the world confronts sweeping changes and new realities, I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the key issues facing his country, our ally Israel,” Palin, who flew in from India, said in a statement on her website.
Israeli media described her trip as a bid to show support for Israel, whose standing is strong among U.S. voters, and gain more experience in international affairs ahead of a possible presidential run.
Palin, who is keeping her supporters guessing on whether she will run for the presidency, made no comment to reporters on arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport for the two-day visit.
The former Alaska governor has used lucrative television, book and speaker deals to emerge as one of her party’s biggest stars since running as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee. During that campaign she was criticized for a lack of foreign policy expertise.
Palin was scheduled to have dinner with Netanyahu and his wife on Monday.
Writing by Jeffrey Heller, editing by Kate Kelland