U.S. Conservative Groups Funding Free Trips to Israel for Republican Leaders, TIME Reports

About 60 RNC members have signed up for February trip financed by American Renewal Project and American Family Association.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Oct. 22, 2013. Photo: JTA (Courtesy of the Office of the Rabbi of the Western Wall)

Two U.S. conservative organizations will be funding free trips to Israel for Republican Party leaders next month, Time Magazine reported Monday.

The trip is not a Republican National Committee event, but is organized for RNC members and guests, RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a November 21 email published by Time.

The trip to Israel, which will take place January 31 to February 8, is being funded by U.S. conservative political operative David Lane’s American Renewal Project, a conservative non-profit focused on getting Christians more involved in American politics, and the American Family Association, which says it aims to help "strengthen the moral foundations of American culture," according to the report.

Israel-related links on the American Renewal Project include an article by conservative U.S. columnist Dennis Prager called "Why do people hate Israel?" and a news piece from Israeli right-wing publication Arutz Sheva headlined "Mass prayer rally at Kotel against 'Kerry's decrees.'"

An RNC spokesperson said about 60 members of the RNC, or 36 percent of the full committee, have said they would like to take part in what the spokesperson called a "spiritual, historic journey through Israel," Time said.

The email says RNC members have been invited "in their personal capacity," and if selected for the trip, will receive economy-class round-trip airfare from New York's JFK Airport to Israel, with all meals, accommodations, tours and site admissions paid for.

Each Republican leader selected may bring a guest, but guests have to pay their own way.

Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky and Texas Governor Rick Perry have both visited Israel with Lane, Time reported.

A Washington Times article about Perry that appears on the American Renewal Project site reported Perry's visit to Israel last year, calling the trip "a move that signals to the political world that he is seriously considering making another presidential run in 2016."