desantis dispatch

In Jerusalem, DeSantis teases presidential announcement

'If there’s any announcements on this, they will come at the appropriate time,' the Florida Republican said at a press conference following his appearance at the Celebrate the Faces of Israel event

Marc Israel Sellem/Jerusalem Post

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Celebrate the Faces of Israel event, April 27, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis teased a potential 2024 presidential run at a conference in Jerusalem on Thursday morning. “If there’s any announcements on this, they will come at the appropriate time,” the Florida Republican said at a press conference following his appearance at the Celebrate the Faces of Israel event, a project of The Jerusalem Post and the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.

DeSantis also downplayed a report from NBC News last night that he is expected to announce a presidential bid as soon as mid-May. 

In DeSantis’ keynote address at the museum, he highlighted Florida’s growing Jewish and expat Israeli community, the state’s flourishing economic ties with Israel as well as his own unwavering support for the Jewish state.

“The task before us as Americans is to stand strongly and forthrightly with Israel and with the Jewish people,” DeSantis said.

“We must support Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes strong military and important intelligence cooperation,” DeSantis, who was in Israel as part of a global tour that includes stops in Japan, South Korea and the U.K., continued. “That also includes supporting Israel to maintain its qualitative military superiority with systems such as Iron Dome.”

“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,” DeSantis said. “The U.S. must defend Israel against disfavorable treatment by the United Nations and other international bodies and must reject those who reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state — that is antisemitism.”

The governor also received applause when he spoke about the views he shares with Israel on Iran as a top adversary of the U.S. and Israel.

“We share that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons creates a risk in this region, their ideology, and apocalyptic ideology combined with the ability to use humanity’s worst weapons represents a threat, an existential threat to the State of Israel, and it represents a threat to the United States of America,” DeSantis said.

Ahead of his address, the Florida governor met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and said he is also scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his stay.

On the Israeli government’s controversial proposal for judicial reforms that has seen ongoing mass  demonstrations in Israel and has even drawn criticism from President Joe Biden, who said he would refrain for now from inviting Netanyahu for an official diplomatic visit to the White House, DeSantis said America must respect Israel’s right to make its own decisions about its own governance.

“We must be a strong ally and not butt into Israel’s internal affairs,” he said. “It seems to me, that it’s healthy to flush this stuff out… you’re a smart country, you’ll figure it out, it shouldn’t be for us to butt into these important issues.” 

DeSantis also addressed the Abraham Accords normalization agreements that were signed by former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020, calling for the U.S. to “recommit to the framework of the Abraham Accords and build a strong alliance between the U.S. and Sunni Arab States.”

DeSantis, who signed a declaration affirming Florida’s special relationship with Israel later at a packed press conference, emphasized that Israel is one of America’s most valued and trusted allies and that maintaining a strong U.S.-Israel relationship has been a priority for him during his time in office.

He talked about previous trips to Israel, including bringing one of the largest U.S. trade delegations to the country in 2019 and various economic agreements with large Israeli companies. He also announced that the state’s Avenger Flight Group will work with El Al to build a training center in Israel.

DeSantis noted that he and his wife, Casey, gathered holy water from the Sea of Galilee to baptize their three children, drawing warm applause from the audience, which also included Museum of Tolerance Chairman Larry Mizel, prominent Denver attorney and super-lobbyist Norm Brownstein, philanthropists Miriam Adelson and Sylvan Adams, venture capitalists Yitz Applbaum, Michael Granoff and Max Fink, RJC’s Matt Brooks and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

DeSantis also spoke about his fight against the BDS movement and antisemitism in his state, saying that Florida has led the way on combating the scourge of antisemitism.

“When your focus is only on the one Jewish state and you hold them up to a different standard than you hold up every other country in the world and when you work to excuse bad conduct from so many rogue regimes throughout the rest of the world – when you have that frame of reference, that is antisemitism,” he said.

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