Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday left for a visit to Israel with a delegation of close to 100 people, The Associated Press reported.
Edited by: JV Staff
His delegation includes education officials, business leaders, lawmakers and the head of the state’s tourism marketing agency. On Wednesday he will host a meeting with the independently elected Cabinet, comprised of Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Fried was already in Israel Saturday for the third day of her own trade mission.
“My meetings are back to back with all type of advancements in agriculture and research,” Fried told AP in a phone interview Saturday. “My brain is going a million miles per hour with ideas and suggestions to bring back to Florida.”
So far she has met with Israeli experts on medical marijuana, irrigation, and treating algae blooms. She has also talked with researchers fighting citrus greening, a disease that’s devastated orange growers in Florida.
On Sunday, she plans to visit a company that works in advanced hydroponics, meet with Israel’s minister of agriculture and visit with cannabis growers.
DeSantis and the Cabinet do not plan to conduct state business at Wednesday’s meeting, but rather sign proclamations declaring their support for Israel, according to AP.
DeSantis, a longtime supporter of Israel, promoted the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv Jerusalem, saying that Americans were “excited to see the embassy move”.
In 2017, DeSantis joined other lawmakers in forming the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus.
Shortly after being elected as Governor of Florida, DeSantis promised to be aggressive in the fight against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“As governor, I’m in charge of the anti-BDS list, so when there are boycotts of Israel, I can unilaterally put these companies on Florida’s list so that they can’t do business with the state of Florida. And I’ll be very aggressive in doing that, and I think that that will help combat BDS,” he told the Israel Hayom newspaper in November.
In January, DeSantis placed Airbnb on the state’s scrutinized companies list, which prohibits state investment in companies that boycott Israel, after the company decided to remove listings for about 200 homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Airbnb eventually backtracked on its plans to delist homes in Judea and Samaria.
In a related development, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that an Arab-American coalition has lodged its strenuous objections to DeSantis holding a state cabinet meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem next week.
“Hosting a Cabinet meeting in a highly secure overseas embassy, where most Floridians would be unable to attend” violates both the Florida Constitution and its Sunshine Law, said members of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League, a 10-member coalition that includes Arab, Jewish and Immigrant rights organizations.
And they said, it may “expose members of your cabinet to criminal penalties.”
The group urged DeSantis to “uphold the Florida Constitution, comply with Florida Sunshine Law and protect your administration by hosting your cabinet meetings in Florida, where Floridians can exercise their right of public access to government proceedings.”