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Netanyahu to cap California tour with museum visit

March 6, 2014
Associated Press

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's three-day tour of California has included a Hollywood premiere and a swing through Silicon Valley. It concludes Thursday with a stop somewhat closer to home.

Before leaving the state, Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The museum is part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish human rights organization whose founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the prime minister calls a close friend.

Netanyahu, who visited the Los Angeles museum on a previous trip to California, has praised the center's plans to build a Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu met with high-tech leaders in Northern California and signed a pro-business agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown.

During a meeting at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the two emphasized their joint interests in cybersecurity, energy sources and water conservation, and suggested Israel — an arid country with a growing population — might be able to help California cope with its ongoing drought.

"California doesn't need to have a water problem," Netanyahu said. "Israel has no water problems because we are the number one recyclers of waste water, we stop water leaks, we use drip irrigation and desalination."

Brown said he would welcome their ideas.

"Israel has demonstrated how efficient a country can be, and there is a great opportunity for collaboration," Brown said.

The visit followed Netanyahu's meetings with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., on Monday and his appearance Tuesday at the Los Angeles premiere of a television documentary that features him giving a tour of his country that will air on public television stations.

This is the first California visit from an Israeli prime minister since 2006.

The agreement Netanyahu and Brown signed follows on several decades of commitments from California and Israel to promote trade, research and economic development.

"The best brains in the world are in Silicon Valley and Silicon Wadi," said Netanyahu, referring to Israel's tech startup region. And he asked Brown to help get direct flights between San Francisco and Tel Aviv.

There are hundreds of Israeli firms working in partnership with California companies, and in Silicon Valley ties are particularly tight, with more than 150 Israeli startups based there, according to the consulate general of Israel in Los Angeles. In addition, the California Israel Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Facebook, Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc.'s PayPal and others.

Joint Venture Silicon Valley President Russell Hancock said Silicon Valley has become a mandatory stop for state visitors; this year both the French and Haitian prime ministers have toured tech giants in the region. And he said the region has many interests in common with Israel.

"Israel is particularly strong in cyber-security, which makes sense given their strong military orientation, use of unmanned air vehicles, and their national security vulnerabilities," he said. "Security is also a valley strength, and destined to be a big growth area for us, so it's natural for there to be some convergence between us."

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Follow Martha Mendoza at https://twitter.com/mendozamartha.

 
 

 

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