MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — The final full day of a trip to Israel by Gov. Ron DeSantis and a Florida delegation included a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a roundtable discussion on school safety and security and a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem.
It has been a whirlwind trade mission so far with Governor DeSantis starting most days before 7:00 a.m. and not quitting into well into the evening. The US Ambassador called him the best friend Israel has among the 50 Governors.
Governor DeSantis started his final full day in Israel with a trip to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for a partnership signing ceremony between the University of Miami and Hebrew University.
“It is an honor to be a part of this historic MOU signing between some of our leading universities and medical centers,” said Governor DeSantis. “Both Florida and Israel continue to benefit from our shared pursuit of the finest and most innovative approaches to medicine, education and research, and today’s signing strengthens that cooperation for the benefit of all Israelis and Floridians.”
The University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital are world leaders in the field, and have previously worked with Israeli doctors and Israeli hospitals to provide post-doctoral training in trauma medicine. Today’s signing formalized the affiliation between the universities and their sister teaching hospitals, further building on Florida and Israel’s collaboration in medical education and research.
From there the Governor visited the Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center on Mount Herzl, where he also attended a wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of six million Jews.
After that, he returned to the David Citadel Hotel for a roundtable on school safety and security.
The schedule for the Governor’s last day in Israel was turned upside-down when a last minute meeting with Netanyahu was scheduled.
The meeting came the day after Netanyahu failed to assemble a governing coalition, sending the country 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, 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.”
Earlier Thursday, Israel’s newly elected parliament dissolved itself and set another election date. The move came just 50 days after Netanyahu seemed to have cruised to re-election. Netanyahu conceded that he had failed to build a coalition government and pushed through legislation for a do-over.
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.
Lawmakers are bringing home some new ideas for school safety from the one place in the word where protection by people with automatic weapons is an everyday sight.
The Governor concluded his trip with a visit to the Western Wall, which is one of the world’s most holy sites which dates back to at least 74 years before the Christian Era began.
DeSantis left a prayer in the wall asking for Florida to be spared this hurricane season.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)