Netanyahu to meet with US presidential candidate DeSantis
The Republican governor's visit to Israel comes as he prepares to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in the upcoming 2024 presidential campaign
By News Desk - April 24 2023

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Photo Credit REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to meet with Republican Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis when the expected 2024 presidential candidate visits Israel this week, Netanyahu said on the US television news program “Face the Nation” on 23 April, Middle East Monitor reports.

The meeting will take place as DeSantis visits Israel as part of a longer trip abroad, which also includes Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Though he has not announced it, DeSantis is widely expected to run for president in the upcoming 2024 election and will challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

One issue separating DeSantis from Trump is the Covid response, as DeSantis opposed lockdowns and has been skeptical of the Covid vaccines, while Trump implemented the lockdowns during his presidency and has been outspoken in taking credit for the development of the vaccines through Operation Warp Speed, which allowed the US military to partner with pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine in record time while bypassing traditional vaccine safety regulations.

Growing awareness of vaccine injuries coupled with Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s strong criticism of vaccine safety has further contributed to making the government’s response to Covid an issue in the upcoming election.

However, both DeSantis and Trump have been outspoken in their support for Israel. When DeSantis met with Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem in 2019, DeSantis called Florida “the most pro-Israel state in the nation.”

President Donald Trump has a very strong relationship with Netanyahu and took the unprecedented step of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem during his presidency. The embassy compound was built on land illegally expropriated from Palestinians, whose descendants, including several US citizens, still have a claim to.

For any presidential candidate, winning the support of American Jews in Florida is important, as support for Israel is a key issue for these voters.

Though most American Jews live in California and New York, which vote reliably for Democratic presidential candidates, Jews comprise 9 percent of the population in Florida, which is a “swing state.” The competition to win the Jewish vote in Florida is intense between Democrats and Republicans, and failure to do so typically means losing the election.

The Jerusalem Post noted during the 2020 presidential campaign, for example, that “the state where Jews clearly have the most influence with their presidential vote is Florida, which has voted for the winning president in 16 out of the 18 elections since 1948 (1960 and 1992 being the exceptions) and whose 29 electoral votes are a key part of either Trump’s or Biden’s path to victory.”

When Netanyahu was asked on Face the Nation if he would meet with DeSantis, he replied: “Of course, I’ll meet with everyone. Why not? I’ll meet with Republican governors and Democratic governors.”

In 2013, then Vice President Joe Biden explained to J Street, a liberal-leaning pro-Israel lobby group in the US, “America’s support for Israel’s security is unshakable, period. Period, period,” and that “If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved.”

Biden also noted that his support for Israel stretches back to a trip to Jerusalem to meet with then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in his first year as a US senator decades ago.

However, support among Republicans for Netanyahu’s Likud party has traditionally outpaced that of Democrats. President Barack Obama was noted for having a poor relationship with Netanyahu, especially following pressure from Israeli intelligence and pro-Israel think tanks demanding Obama intervene militarily in Syria following the false flag chemical attack in Ghouta in 2013.

Most Popular