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Netanyahu says he will meet with Florida Governor DeSantis during his visit to Israel

Israeli prime minister says it is his job to meet with ‘every American representative’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and his wife, Casey, arrive at the prime minister's office to hold their meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, April 24, 2023. (Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said he would meet with Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during his visit to Israel this week. 

DeSantis is set to arrive in Israel on Thursday, after making stops in Japan and South Korea. He has not released an agenda for his visit, apart from a speaking engagement at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on Thursday, where he will deliver the keynote at the “Celebrating the Faces of Israel” assembly.  

Netanyahu did not indicate that a meeting with DeSantis had already been scheduled but said, “Of course, I’ll meet with everyone, why not?” when asked by host Margaret Brennan if he was willing to meet. 

Brennan indicated that such a meeting would be an endorsement for DeSantis, and she also claimed that Netanyahu endorsed Governor Mitt Romney during his presidential run. 

Netanyahu countered, saying, “I’ve never endorsed any candidate for any job in America.” 

He said that he had also met with then-Sen. Barack Obama, before he won the presidential election. 

Netanyahu claimed to meet equally with Republican and Democratic representatives in Israel, citing his recent meetings with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“I meet with every American representative; governor, senator, members of Congress,” Netanyahu said, adding, “I think it’s my job, and it’s important for Israel’s bipartisan support in the United States.” 

While many expect DeSantis to announce his presidential candidacy soon, he has characterized this trip as a trade mission focused on several important trading partners with the state of Florida.

Florida has the world’s 15th largest economy, and DeSantis has overseen important trade deals with several countries in the past. His trips to Japan and South Korea will also include trade meetings with local government and business leaders. 

“This trade mission will give us the opportunity to strengthen economic relationships and continue to demonstrate Florida’s position as an economic leader,” DeSantis said about the visit. 

In a note about the trip, DeSantis said bilateral trade between Florida and Israel reached $651 million in 2022. 

While DeSantis’ office did not confirm that a meeting between Netanyahu and DeSantis has been arranged, such a meeting is widely expected if DeSantis is planning to run for president. 

In a statement about his visit, the Florida governor said that, since elected, his office has “strengthened the relationship between Florida and Israel through increased investment by Israeli companies in our state," has fought "the scourge of BDS," and become home to "the fastest growing Jewish population in the United States.” 

DeSantis' statement appeared to condemn U.S. President Joe Biden’s handling of the tension in Israel, when he said: “At a time of unnecessarily strained relations between Jerusalem and Washington, Florida serves as a bridge between the American and Israeli people.” 

Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Florida Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella will accompany DeSantis during this upcoming trip. The trade team will reportedly meet with Israeli company, INSIGHTEC, which has partnered with a consortium of Florida universities to study treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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