TEL AVIV – A marathon Tuesday of partnership signings was followed by a victory lap at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv with the anticipation of a celebratory Cabinet meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem today.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, leader of a trade mission of nearly 100 people to Israel this week, was greeted at a networking reception as a conquering hero by U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who said “Israel has no greater friend in all the 50 governor’s mansions than Ron DeSantis.”
This was the first visit DeSantis made to the residence, saying he “was always trying to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
Both men touted the accomplishment of President Trump’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year, a move that is unfinished and leaves the embassy with minimal WiFi and room to hold about 30 people.
DeSantis touted the day’s achievements, signing agreements between several U.S. and Israeli universities, and renewing an agreement between Space Florida and the Florida-Israel Innovation Authority.
“I have lost count of the number of memorandums of understanding we’ve signed,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s an extraordinary time.”
An ebullient DeSantis said he was excited to be holding a meeting of the Florida Cabinet in the Embassy in Jerusalem, even as a lawsuit was filed by the First Amendment Foundation to try to stop the meeting. “That’s going to be a really neat thing.”
All the celebration hung on the uncertainty of whether an emergency injunction to stop the Cabinet meeting could be executed since the Governor and Cabinet cannot be served at a distance of 6,500 miles. The First Amendment Foundation, which was joined by newspapers across the state in the lawsuit, was still engaged in last-minute legal appeals. But in a sign that the meeting would go on, DeSantis sent out a media advisory Tuesday evening promoting the Cabinet meeting.
DeSantis said he would be signing an anti-Semitism bill after the Cabinet meeting, introduced by Rep. Randy Fine of Melbourne Beach, “one of the only Jewish Republicans in the Legislature, maybe the only one.”
He added that Florida’s educational institutions “will not be engaged in BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) or anti-Semitism tropes.”