DeSantis to visit Israel next month ahead of expected 2024 presidential run

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Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis will visit Israel next month, his office told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

Desantis will lead a trade delegation from the Sunshine State and speak at a major event on April 27 organized by The Jerusalem Post and the Museum of Tolerance in the capital, his office confirmed.

“A few months after I inaugurated my first term as Governor of Florida, I traveled to Israel for a state visit with the largest trade delegation ever from the Sunshine State to the Jewish State,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Since that time, we have strengthened the relationship between Florida and Israel through increased investment by Israeli companies in our state, fighting the scourge of Ireland. [the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement]and to be home to the fastest growing Jewish population in the United States.”

“At a time when relations between Jerusalem and Washington are unnecessarily strained, Florida serves as a bridge between the American people and Israel,” he said in an apparent shot at the Biden administration over its handling of ties to the Jewish state.

Relations have indeed been rocky since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the capital three months ago, with the United States summoning Israel’s ambassador to Washington Mike Herzog to the State Department after the Knesset passed legislation allowing the resettlement of West Bank areas. north that Israel left in 2005.

The law followed frustration already brewing in Washington over National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount flashpoint, a series of deadly IDF raids on the West Bank, to advance plans for more than 10,000 settlement homes. and nearly a dozen in the West. Bank outposts, a pair of incendiary statements towards Palestinians by the Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich and the government’s extremely controversial judicial reform.

DeSantis has long been one of the most vocal pro-Israel members of the Republican party, focusing his criticism of Middle Eastern leaders on the Palestinians. He claims in his recent book that he helped lay the groundwork for former US president Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and insists that the Bank is “controversial”. West rather than “occupied” territory.

Florida’s governor has also passed legislation targeting companies that boycott Israel or its West Bank settlements. In 2019, he promised to be “the most pro-Israel governor in America.”

During a visit to Israel that same year, he held a ceremonial meeting of the Florida Cabinet with other state officials.

His efforts to increase funding for security improvements in Jewish schools won him awards from Jewish leaders, but other segments of the public took particular issue with his stance on LGBTQ rights.

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