Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Visit to Israel and its Implications for His Presidential Ambitions

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently visited Israel as part of a global tour that includes stops in Japan, South Korea, and the UK. The visit has been seen as an attempt to position himself for a possible presidential candidacy in the future.[0] During his visit, he met with business leaders and government officials to promote trade with Florida.[0] However, his trip was also an opportunity for DeSantis to spotlight his foreign policy and diplomatic credentials as a likely presidential hopeful.

Emphasizing the significance of the US-Israeli alliance, DeSantis highlighted that Israel holds a position of high value and trust among America’s allies. Maintaining a strong Israel relationship has been a priority for me during my time in elected office, and I know it’s been a priority for the overwhelming majority of the American people.” He also emphasized the importance of supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, including strong military and intelligence cooperation.

DeSantis presented an Israel policy that was in line with that of the former Trump administration, particularly with respect to Jerusalem.[1] He presented the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as his own achievement, saying he worked to “cajole” the former president to make the move.[2] Trump was not mentioned by him.[3]

In Israel, DeSantis walked in Trump’s footsteps and addressed an event at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem where he appeared to reject the Biden administration’s tacit opposition to Netanyahu’s judicial reform, which critics believe will erode the country’s most significant check on executive power.[4] “My view is that the United States should be a strong ally to Israel, but we should not butt into their internal affairs,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his stay.[5] He also delivered the keynote address at the Celebrate the Faces Israel event held at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel.[2]

DeSantis repeatedly said the shared religious values between Judaism and Christianity are the basis for the alliance between the U.S. and Israel.[3] He also insisted that the West Bank be referred to as “disputed,” rather than “occupied” territory, as it is commonly viewed by the international community.[4] “Those are the most historic Jewish lands there are going back thousands and thousands of years,” he told reporters.[1] “There’s never been a Palestinian Arab entity.”[4]

On his trip to Britain, DeSantis met with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch for talks in London.[6] The United Kingdom is one of Florida’s most significant economic partners, and Florida ranks among the top American states for British businesses and tourists.[7]

DeSantis has not yet announced his candidacy for U.S. President but is considered a potential Republican candidate against former President Donald Trump.[0] This week, Joe Biden, the current President, declared his candidacy for another term in office. It’s possible that Netanyahu’s failure to reveal his encounter with DeSantis is linked to the Prime Minister’s intricate connections with both Presidents.[0]

During his visit, DeSantis also expressed his support for Israel maintaining its qualitative military superiority with systems such as the Iron Dome.[1] He said, “We must also ensure that however the future political winds may blow, the U.S. embassy will always be right here in Jerusalem—that’s never going to change.”[1]

DeSantis’ visit to Israel has highlighted the importance of the US-Israeli relationship and the shared cultural and religious values between the two countries. It has also provided an opportunity for DeSantis to showcase his foreign policy and diplomatic credentials as a potential presidential candidate.

0. “Netanyahu Met With Florida Governor Ron DeSantis During His Recent Trip to Israel, but Did Not Publicize It – Israel …” Haaretz, 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2023-04-30/ty-article/.premium/netanyahu-met-with-ron-desantis-during-his-recent-trip-to-israel-but-did-not-publicize-it/00000187-cef3-d6a1-ad87-eef3e06d0000

1. “Biden’s alienation of Riyadh makes Israeli-Saudi deal hard – DeSantis” The Jerusalem Post, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-741407

2. “Ron DeSantis Tries to Commandeer Trump’s Greatest Israel Accomplishment” Newsweek, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/ron-desantis-tries-commandeer-trump-greatest-israel-accomplishment-1797155

3. “DeSantis in Jerusalem touts pro-Israel credentials ahead of expected presidential bid” Axios, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/04/27/desantis-israel-credentials-speech-jerusalem-2024-bid

4. “In Israel, DeSantis reveals that his foreign policy mirrors Trump’s” The Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/28/desantis-trump-foreign-policy/

5. “In Jerusalem, DeSantis teases presidential announcement” Jewish Insider, 27 Apr. 2023, https://jewishinsider.com/2023/04/ron-desantis-israel-jerusalem-museum-of-tolerance-iran-florida

6. “Trump who? Farage’s party cozies up to DeSantis as White House hopeful lands in UK” POLITICO Europe, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/nigel-farage-new-party-ron-desantis-white-house-hopeful-land-uk/

7. “Governor Ron DeSantis Meets with United Kingdom Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch” Governor Ron DeSantis, 28 Apr. 2023, https://flgov.com/2023/04/28/governor-ron-desantis-meets-with-united-kingdom-secretary-of-state-for-business-and-trade-kemi-badenoch/

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