Florida Governor DeSantis meets Netanyahu in Israel
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Florida Governor DeSantis meets Netanyahu in Israel

Republican leader praises PM as he ends trade mission, which included meetings with dozens of business leaders, elected officials, and university personnel

With the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to reporters on May 27, 2019, ahead of the first full day of a Florida trade delegation trip to Israel. (Jeff Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)
With the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to reporters on May 27, 2019, ahead of the first full day of a Florida trade delegation trip to Israel. (Jeff Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)

JERUSALEM — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, calling the embattled premier a “strong leader” on the governor’s final day of a trade mission to Israel.

The meeting came a day after Netanyahu failed to assemble a governing coalition and the Knesset voted to dissolve itself, sending Israel into a political crisis.

“I think Bibi has been a really strong leader. He gave a great speech when I was in Congress to a joint session,” DeSantis said after the meeting, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname, according to a pool report arranged through the Florida Society of News Editors. “I told him after that speech I had so many constituents who said, ‘Heck, why don’t we elect Netanyahu here?’ So, if it doesn’t work out for him, I think he probably could get elected in the United States if he wanted to.”

DeSantis said that while he met with some Israeli politicians, politics wasn’t the nature of his four-day trade mission.

“It was kind of beyond the scope of the trip,” DeSantis said.

After the meeting, DeSantis visited the Western Wall. He placed his own prayer in the wall asking God to keep Florida safe from hurricanes, as well as one from a Florida Panhandle girl who lost her home during Hurricane Michael.

DeSantis returns to Florida on Friday after a trade mission that included meeting with nearly 100 business leaders, elected officials and university officials. Several memorandums of understanding were signed with Israeli companies and universities.

The trip also included a meeting held by DeSantis and the state’s three independently elected Cabinet members, which the open government watchdog group First Amendment Foundation and several news outlets argued was a violation of Florida law because it wasn’t accessible to Floridians.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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