Perry in Israel to Receive Defender of Jerusalem Award

Texas is Israel's fourth-largest trading partner

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    AUSTIN, TX - MAY 11: Texas Governor Rick Perry waits during his introduction before addressing Austin's largest naturalization ceremony at the Delco Activity Center on May 11, 2007 in Austin, Texas. More than 1,000 area residents representing 85 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to become United States citizens. (Photo by Taylor Jones/Getty Images)

    Gov. Rick Perry has accepted the Defender of Jerusalem Award, given to public figures who have demonstrated support for the state of Israel.

    Perry, whose office said he was still in Israel on Thursday, also met with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and business and academic leaders during his trip.

    "I have long supported the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East and firmly believe in the protection and preservation of democratic states in that part of the world," Perry said. "After visiting several sacred and historic sites, meeting with business, civic and government leaders and seeing the day-to-day lives of the people on my trips to Israel, I am even more convinced that a safe, secure Israel is an essential part of stability in this part of the world."

    He traveled to Israel Sunday and is scheduled to return to Texas on Saturday. Doheny Global Group, an investment company, is paying for the trip, Perry's office said Thursday.

    The Defender of Jerusalem Award was created in 2008 by Guma Aguiar, head of the Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation.

    Perry has made previous trips to Israel. He emphasizes business connections between Israel and Texas through the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, his office said. 

    Texas is Israel's fourth-largest trading partner.