Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday flew to Israel for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem – an official trip that also sends signals to voters in Florida as he seeks to replace Sen. Bill Nelson.
Rep. Ron DeSantis, a top candidate for governor, is also in Israel and appeared on Fox News from there Saturday night.
It's Scott's third trip to Israel as governor, the most recent coming in December 2017, when he called for relocating the embassy — just days before President Donald Trump did. A coincidence?
On Sunday, Scott was to will attend a dinner with Friends of Zion Museum honoring the opening of the embassy, which takes place Monday. Before the opening, Scott will attend a breakfast hosted by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, according to his office.
From The Associated Press:
JERUSALEM — Israel on Sunday kicked off festivities to celebrate the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, even as it bolstered its forces along the Gaza border and in the West Bank in anticipation of mass Palestinian protests of the move.
A day before the embassy's formal opening, Israel hosted a gala party at its Foreign Ministry with President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, and other American VIPs.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump's "bold decision" in upending decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "It's the right thing to do," a smiling Netanyahu told the jubilant crowd.
Trump announced his decision on Jerusalem in December, triggering a joyous reaction from Netanyahu's nationalist government. The move infuriated the Palestinians, who claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas halted ties with the Trump administration and declared it unfit to remain in its role as the sole mediator in peace talks.
The rival Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, has been staging a series of weekly demonstrations against a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory. Those protests are to climax Monday, with tens of thousands of people expected to gather along the Israeli border in an event timed to coincide with the U.S. Embassy move.
Hamas has signaled that large crowds, numbering perhaps in the thousands, might try to break through the border fence to realize the "right of return" to lost homes.
Both the embassy move and the protests have symbolic timing. Trump has said the opening is meant to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment. The Palestinian protests also mark the date as the anniversary of their "naqba," or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of people fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding the event. About two-thirds of Gaza's 2 million people are descendants of Palestinian refugees.