Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday visited the Hub Etzion Industrial Park in Gush Etzion together with Israel’s Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan for a round table meeting to discuss the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement and “why Israel has been unfairly targeted for discrimination.”
The visit was of historical significance as it marked the first time a Florida Governor has crossed the “green line” into Judea and Samaria.
In a joint press conference, DeSantis stated that “I’ve made it clear since taking office that I will be the most pro-Israel Governor in the nation and that BDS is DOA (Dead-on-arrival) in Florida.”
“Today’s roundtable with Israeli officials in Gush Etzion provided valuable insight into the BDS movement, it’s targeting of Jewish businesses and organizations and the harm that this movement also causes Palestinians,” he added.
When DeSantis became governor he took immediate action to stand against commercial discrimination of Israel by placing the Airbnb tourism giant on Florida’s scrutinized companies list, and Airbnb has since reversed its policy to de-list Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria.
“Florida is a very pro-Israel state and the people in Israel should know that we really value our relationship,” the Floridian governor declared.
Erdan said that “DeSantis has been one of the greatest and most consistent friends of Israel and of the US-Israel alliance. Governor DeSantis promised that under his leadership, Florida would be the most pro-Israel state in America and he has kept his promise. In the name of the government and people of Israel, I want to thank Governor DeSantis for all that he has done.”
During the meeting, DeSantis said he believes the US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
He also accused BDS of being “two-faced: on the one hand, there are people willing to trade with Iran,” a global leader of terror-financing, but on the other hand, they “want to boycott the only democratic Jewish state in the world.”
This serves as proof that the BDS is motivated by anti-Semitism, he said.
Erdan charged that the BDS “is not only anti-Semitic, but it also works against the chance for peace. Real peace will only come from encouraging coexistence and cooperation between the peoples. As part of the US peace efforts, we must work to establish foundations that will invest in joint industrial zones, and this should be one of the main issues that will be discussed at the economic workshop in Bahrain.”
He noted that “only a few years ago it was hard to believe that the American Embassy would move to Jerusalem and that the US would recognize our sovereignty over the Golan Heights” but it happened. Similarly, “it is hard to imagine that the US would recognize our sovereignty over Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, but I believe that this day will come soon because it is the right thing to do morally and historically.”
He also underscored as that “there is no difference between a boycott of goods from Judea and Samaria or Tel Aviv, so there should be no difference between Israeli sovereignty in Tel Aviv and in Judea and Samaria. The Israeli settlements will always remain part of Israel in any future agreement. Peace cannot come from uprooting Arabs or Jews from their homes, and there is no reason not to apply Israeli law to Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.”
“The real obstacle to peace in the region is still the continuation of Palestinian incitement and the transfer of money to terrorists,” he said, calling on the US to examine the use of existing legislation to impose sanctions on the Palestinian leadership for providing support for terrorism.
DeSantis is on a four-day trade mission to Israel, his first official visit abroad since taking office in January, to boost Florida’s economy. He is traveling with a 90-member delegation of elected officials, state workers, businessmen and senior academics, including Florida Cabinet Members Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.