HERZLIYA, Israel — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has canceled tentative plans to visit Israel early this year, The Hill has learned.
Media reports in December indicated that Palin had opened discussions about a foreign trip in 2011, with Israel and Great Britain at the top of the list of potential destinations. Details of the overseas venture, including the dates and locations, however, were never finalized.
Palin considered attending the Herzliya Conference, a highly regarded national security and policy gathering outside Tel Aviv. This year's conference began Sunday, and a spokesman for the event said that Palin was invited to attend but did not accept the offer.
"She was invited; the president was invited. All of the top people in the U.S. were invited," the spokesman said. "But it's not as if her attendance was imminent or expected."
A Palin aide declined to comment on the development.
The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee's visit to Israel would have helped burnish her foreign policy credentials ahead of a possible run for president in 2012.
Palin faced questions regarding her knowledge of foreign issues during the 2008 presidential campaign, but she has worked to bolster her understanding of the international stage since then. She delivered a speech in 2009 to a business group in Hong Kong.
The news does not preclude a foreign trip by Palin at another time this year.
Other potential GOP presidential candidates have already visited Israel in the new year, which has traditionally been a stopping point for U.S. political bigwigs from both parties due to the robust alliance between the two nations.
"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) visited Israel last month and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) made his 15th trip to Israel last week. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is scheduled to address the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday."
Palin has been known as a strong supporter of Israel ever since she entered the national political arena. The Daily Beast noted in December that Palin offered praise for the Jewish state during the Hanukkah holiday.
“Today we should all recommit ourselves to ensuring that the miracle of a Jewish state endures forever," she wrote. "The dreidel is one of the most familiar symbols of Hanukkah, with Hebrew letters on it representing the phrase Nes Gadol Haya Sham — ‘A great miracle happened there.’ Indeed, a great miracle is still happening there."
Palin is also not attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which has come under fire from social conservatives for allowing a gay Republican group to participate.
"I’ve never attended a CPAC conference ever, so I was a little taken aback this go-around when I couldn’t make it to this one either and then there was a speculation [concerning whether] I either agree or disagree with some of the groups or issues that CPAC is discussing," Palin told the Christian Broadcasting Network. "It really is a matter of time for me."