Florida Governor-elect vows to fight BDS

Ron DeSantis, a longtime Israel supporter, says Trump should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Elad Benari ,

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, a longtime supporter of Israel, says his first overseas trip as governor of Florida will be to Israel and promises to be aggressive in the fight against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In an interview with Israel Hayom which was published on Thursday, DeSantis said, “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.”

“My first foreign trip as governor is going to be to Israel. I want to obviously develop additional economic relationships, want to make sure we continue to have direct flights from south Florida to Ben-Gurion [International] Airport. And I also want to establish working relationships between some of the universities and researchers and innovators in Israel with people in Florida, because we have different problems, like red tide [harmful algal blooms], and I think if were able to work constructively with Israelis, we probably could develop solutions much quicker. So I think that there's going to ... open a lot of possibilities for us,” he continued.

Specifically regarding BDS, the Governor-elect said he is “definitely in favor of strengthening our tools to fight BDS. For sure, we will be aggressive in supporting that. I've done that in the Congress for six years. In fact, I was the first one to hold an anti-BDS hearing years ago on my subcommittee, so we're going to be very aggressive on that, and part of that is, you know, Florida's a really big, diverse state. But yet it doesn't matter if I'm in Boca Raton or Pensacola – people in Florida are pro-Israel and they want to make sure that we are standing with them.”

“I would say Israel was a bigger issue in this governor's race than it has been in other governor's races. Part of it is because you had a contrast with the two candidates, and then part of it is just within the last few years, states have been active in fighting things like BDS. And so there's more of a role for a governor, you know, now than there may have been 20 years ago in terms of the relationship between the US or individual states and Israel. And so it's great to be able to have that ability to really push back. And as governor, I'll obviously do that very quickly,” he continued.

During his time in the House of Representatives, DeSantis sponsored the 2013 Palestinian Accountability Act which called for the withholding of US aid to the Palestinian Authority until the PA officially recognizes Israel as a Jewish state and cuts ties with the Gaza-based terror group Hamas.

DeSantis 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.

Earlier this year, DeSantis drafted a proposal calling on the US to recognize the Golan Heights as an "integral part" of the State of Israel. Israel annexed the Golan in 1981 – a move the US has never recognized.

Asked by Israel Hayom how, as governor, he will advance efforts similar to the US embassy relocation, whether regarding the Golan Heights or issues concerning Israel, he replied, “Well, I want to make sure when we're doing trading with Israel, I don't draw any distinctions like the State Department would between an Israeli Jewish community in Tel Aviv or Jewish communities in the Golan Heights or Judea and Samaria, and I view it all as basically the same.”

“There shouldn't be a distinction. I do think that [President Donald] Trump should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. When I do travel to Israel, I will make that case and urge him to do it just like I urged him to move the embassy when I was over there in 2017. So, yeah, look, I think when you lead with purpose and conviction like Trump did when he moved the embassy – look, good things happen as a result of that. I think the same [is true] with the Golan Heights,” he continued.

DeSantis also said that “there's no way that that [territory] should ever be transferred to anybody in Syria, whether it's [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, whether it's Hezbollah, you know, ISIS [the Islamic State terrorist group]. I mean it's a disaster. So it's very important strategic ground, and we want to make sure that Israel keeps that and that should not be subject to further dispute.”

Specifically addressing the results of the midterm elections, DeSantis opined that the fact that the Democrats took the House of Representatives will probably help Trump get re-elected.

“I think what you're going to see is [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi just over-reach. I think that she's going to be driven by all the left-wing crazies, and I think it's going to be a good foil for the president. So, he's probably not going to be able to get as much done with her as speaker, but, you know, the flip-side of that is I do think it positions him better for re-election. And I think Pelosi's over-reaching will probably help ensure that Trump is in fact re-elected,” he told Israel Hayom.