Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, calling the embattled Israeli prime minister a “strong leader” on the governor’s final day of a trade mission to Israel.
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.
DeSantis returns to Florida on Friday after a trade mission that included nearly 100 business leaders, elected officials and university officials. Several memorandums of understanding were signed with Israeli companies and universities.
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.