Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

DeSantis, state officials primed for May 25 Israel trip

“I promised to be the most pro-Israel governor in America and that the first delegation I would lead would be to the state of Israel,” DeSantis said in a statement.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton on  Jan. 15. DeSantis spoke about sanctions against Airbnb unless it reverses its decision barring lodging listings in the disputed West Bank in the Middle East.  (Bruce R. Bennett/Palm Beach Post via AP)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton on Jan. 15. DeSantis spoke about sanctions against Airbnb unless it reverses its decision barring lodging listings in the disputed West Bank in the Middle East. (Bruce R. Bennett/Palm Beach Post via AP)
Published May 9, 2019
Updated May 9, 2019

TALLAHASSEE -- In his quest to become the most “pro-Israel” governor in the nation, Gov. Ron DeSantis this month will lead a first-ever Florida Cabinet meeting in Israel as part of a week-long trip in which he is also scheduled to talk with executives who might want to do business in the Sunshine State.

A number of details about the May 25 to May 31 trip have not been announced, including how much it will cost taxpayers, how the public Cabinet meeting will be televised in Florida and what policy issues will be discussed at the meeting.

But The News Service of Florida confirmed that the governor has requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide security for Cabinet members and that Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will attend with one staff member each. The office of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried did not immediately confirm her plans.

At least two state lawmakers, Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, and Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, have confirmed they will take part in the trip.

Katie Strickland, a spokeswoman for Patronis, said the CFO’s office has not received an agenda for the Cabinet meeting. The Florida Channel, which is funded by the state and broadcasts Cabinet meetings and numerous other types of government events, does not plan to cover the meeting in Israel, Beth Switzer, the channel’s executive director, said in an email Monday.

All events, particularly the Cabinet meeting, will “comply with sunshine laws,” and there will be public access to all Floridians, according to Helen Ferre, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

But Floridians who are members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is highly critical of Israel, might not be welcome.

“I don’t think there is room for (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists to come to Israel,” Lior Haiat, the consul general for Miami, told the South Florida public-radio station WLRN. Haiat added that while DeSantis can hold a meeting is Israel, “we decide who enters and who doesn’t.”

The trip, which was planned with the help of the economic-development agency Enterprise Florida, is DeSantis’ first international trade mission. It is meant to enhance the strong relationship between Florida and Israel in areas of academic research, technology, business and science, DeSantis’ office said.

The governor, in announcing the trip last month, also touted his support of Israel.

“I promised to be the most pro-Israel governor in America and that the first delegation I would lead would be to the state of Israel,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Today, I’m pleased to report that I’m keeping that promise. Our delegation will bring business, academic and political leaders to help strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel.”

While plans are subject to change, DeSantis’ office said more than 10 business meetings are scheduled during the week with CEOs of Israeli companies that do business in Florida or hope to do so. Florida’s embattled tourism-marketing agency, Visit Florida, is also scheduled to host a reception with Israeli companies during the trip.

Florida lawmakers during the legislative session that ended Saturday also took steps designed to strengthen ties with Israel and combat anti-Semitism.

For example, they approved providing $400,000 to the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator program, which is an initiative of the Tampa Jewish Community Center and is meant to “act as a conduit for Israel high-tech ventures to open U.S. headquarters in Florida” in an effort to “increase the business connections between the economies of Israel and Florida,” according to a funding request considered by lawmakers.

Also, lawmakers passed a bill, sponsored by Fine, that would treat discrimination against Jewish people at Florida education institutions the same as acts of racial discrimination are treated.

As the trip approaches, Israel has seen an escalating conflict involving Gaza, including rocket attacks by Hamas and retaliatory airstrikes by Israel. DeSantis said he has not been asked by Israelis to postpone the trip.

“We don’t want to put anyone in danger, but hopefully everything will be good,” DeSantis said Tuesday.

“We’re just going to work with the Israelis to make sure that’s it’s a good time to go. And if it’s not, then we’ll reschedule it. But we haven’t been told that we have to reschedule it,” he added.

The dates of the Israel trip coincide with the 2019 Israel-American Business Summit, which DeSantis previously said he would attend as the keynote speaker. The event will be held by the Federations of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and the U.S. Embassy.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Visitors head to Florida's Old Capitol building on Tuesday, the first day of the annual session. The same day, the advocacy group Equality Florida denounced four bills filed by Republican lawmakers, calling them “the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida legislature in recent memory.” [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Most of the bills try to eliminate local ordinances, and Republicans say they’ve been unfairly labeled.
  2. Attorney Joseph Bondy tweeted this photo of his client, Lev Parnas (right) with former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi on Friday, Jan. 17. Bondi on Friday was named on of President Donald Trump's impeachment lawyers. [Twitter]
    Parnas’ lawyer tweeted out the photo of the former Florida attorney general along with #TheyAllKnew.
  3. Florida Senator Rob Bradley, R- Fleming Island, watches the action on the first day of the session, 1/14/2020.  [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    A popular bill would allow judges to dole out punishments less than the mandatory minimum sentences spelled out in state law for many drug crimes if the defendant meets certain criteria.
  4. Vice President Mike Pence take selfies with supporters after giving a campaign speech during the "Keep America Great" rally at the Venetian Event Center at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, January 16, 2020.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    ‘Come November the American people are going to have our say,’ Pence said.
  5. Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, presents a bill that would allow Florida public colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, during a January 2020 meeting of the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    Alternative authorizers have been found unconstitutional in the past. But that isn’t stopping the effort.
  6. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, members of the Florida Cabinet, left, and the Florida Supreme Court, right, stand at attention as the colors are posted in the Florida Senate during the first day of the Florida legislative session in Tallahassee, Tuesday, January 14, 2020.  [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The court ruled that Amendment 4‘s “all terms of sentence” include the payment of all court fees, fines and restitution.
  7. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida's Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.  (Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER  |  AP]
    The PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee cutting exercise would come in nearly 25 percent below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal.
  8. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,, center, speaks as fellow candidates businessman Tom Steyer, from left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. listen, Tuesday during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) [PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP]
    The candidates’ proposals reveal differences in how they plan to approach the issue.
  9. Vice President Mike Pence points to supporters before speaking during a campaign rally at the Huntington Center, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) [TONY DEJAK  |  AP]
    Vice President Mike Pence will take the stage in New Tampa, at the Venetian Event Center at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, at 1:30 p.m. It wasn’t planned that way.
  10. <Samsung D70 / D75 / S730 / S750>
    For the first time since he was nominated by Gov. Ron DeSantis for the job of Florida Surgeon General, Scott Rivkees appeared before senators to answer questions that have been percolating for nine...
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement