With the Trump administration continuing to open the door to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Gov. Rick Scott said on Wednesday that he backed the idea even as he readies to lead a trade mission to Israel.
Scott announced that he would lead almost 70 business and education leaders from across the Sunshine State on a trip to Israel. He also said he supported moving the embassy which now President Donald Trump promised to do in last year’s presidential campaign but, so far, has not attempted to relocate the embassy. Earlier in the week, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration was considering moving the embassy.
“Florida has proudly stood with our friend and ally Israel for many generations, and I am proud to be leading a delegation of Florida business and education leaders on a trade mission to Israel,” Scott, who is expected to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., in 2018, said on Wednesday. “As we prepare for this important trade mission, it is clear that our entire nation must also continue to strengthen this partnership with Israel. I strongly believe that the U.S. Embassy belongs in Jerusalem and I am hopeful that a decision will be made to finally move the embassy to the its rightful destination in Israel’s capital city.
“Working with international partners like Israel is critical to strengthening Florida as a global destination for trade and to ensuring that our economy will continue to grow for years to come,” Scott added. “Our previous trade mission to Israel was an astonishing success, and I look forward to sharing how far Florida has come in just seven years. We have fought relentlessly to make Florida the best place for businesses to grow and families to find opportunity, and we must make sure we are doing all we can to share our state’s success story across the world.”
Scott’s trip will include economic development meetings, honoring El Al airlines for its ties to Florida, education meetings as Israeli universities and colleges work with their counterparts in the Sunshine State and continued work between Space Florida and Israel. The governor’s office noted that trade between Israel and Florida leads to more than $286 million annually.
The governor is not the only Florida Republican calling for the embassy to be moved. Last week, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018 and the chairman of the U.S. House National Security Subcommittee, sent a letter to Trump on the matter. Twelve fellow representatives--including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Dennis Ross--signed off on the letter.
At the start of the year, DeSantis rounded up more than 100 fellow members of Congress to send a letter Trump on the matter. DeSantis’ effort won the support of some of the members of the Florida delegation including U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who chairs the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. Other members of the Florida delegation who signed the letter were Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo, Mast and Ted Yoho. Also at the start of the year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with former presidential primary rival U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to bring out the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act" which would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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