MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Gov. Ron DeSantis returned to Florida on Friday after wrapping up his business-development trip to Israel.
Over the course of five days, the Governor led a delegation of about 100 Floridians who worked on forming stronger bonds with Israel. Several memorandums of understanding were signed with Israeli companies and universities.
The governor’s officer announced that more than 20,000 strategic partnerships and “memorandums of understanding” were established during the trip.
On his final full day on Thursday, DeSantis met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the embattled Israeli prime minister a “strong leader.”
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.
After the meeting, DeSantis visited the Western Wall, the holiest site for the Jewish people. 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.
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.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)