American presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis visits Israel

The Florida governor attacked those who reject the Jewish state’s right to exist


JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - APRIL 27: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the press during a press conference at the Museum of Tolerance on April 27, 2023 in Jerusalem, Israel. Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida and an anticipated US presidential candidate, has been visiting several countries as part of a trade delegation. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

(JNS) Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has declared that America must “reject” those who reject Israel’s right to exist while on a visit to the Jewish state.

The Florida governor signed a bill on Thursday to strengthen his state’s ability to combat antisemitism and claimed that there has never been a Palestinian state.

“When your focus is only on one Jewish state, and you hold it up to a different standard than any other country in the world, that is antisemitism,” said DeSantis.

“We are doing what we can do in Florida to enhance the ability to hold people accountable when that really crosses the line into threatening conduct. We are fighting back,” added the Republican, who is considering a 2024 US presidential run.

“We must reject those who reject Israel’s right to exist,” he said.

The governor said the West Bank should be viewed as “disputed territory,” as the Trump administration referred to it, and not as “occupied territory,” as much of the international community labels it.

“It’s disputed territory. Okay, you had a [U.N.] Partition Plan and ’48. Israel obviously declared independence, they were willing to accept that partition. The Arabs rejected the partition, they went to a war rather than accept partition,” DeSantis said at the conference.

“Those are the most historic Jewish lands there are going back thousands and thousands of years. There’s never been a Palestinian Arab entity,” he continued.

He said that he would not fund the Palestinians or organizations such as UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) if they engage in terrorism.

DeSantis vowed that the US embassy would “remain in Jerusalem no matter where the political winds of change blow,” and emphasised that Washington “must defend Israel against disfavoured treatment by the U.N. and agenda-driven international bodies.”

Former American President Donald Trump relocated the embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital in May 2018.

With respect to the debate in Israel over the government’s judicial reform initiative, DeSantis urged the Biden administration to refrain from intervening.

“You’re a smart country. You can figure it out. We shouldn’t butt into these important issues,” said the governor.

He also noted that Iran views the United States as its “No. 1 enemy,” with Israel just behind it.

The governor is a staunch supporter of Israel and has fought the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

He is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with representatives of Israeli companies interested in investing in Florida. Israel is Florida’s 19th-largest source of foreign investment, DeSantis’s office has said.

DeSantis, who was visiting Israel with his wife, Casey, noted that they gathered holy water from the Sea of Galilee to baptize their three children, and called the story of Israel’s rebirth 75 years ago a “momentous development” in world history.

“Just as David defeated Goliath, the Jewish people beat the odds,” he said. Israel has faced more challenges than perhaps any other country has in the 75 years since its independence, he added.

The current trip is his fifth to Israel, including three as a congressman.

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