Florida Governor Rick Scott.
(photo credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS)
Visiting Israel, Florida Governor Rick Scott pushed for the American embassy in Tel Aviv to be moved to Jerusalem. US President Trump must decide by Monday night whether to sign another waiver or order the embassy to be moved.
“It’s the capital of Israel, our embassy ought to be located there,” Governor Scott told The Jerusalem Post on Monday as he toured Tel Aviv University. “We passed legislation... and we need to comply with the legislation instead of the waivers.”
The bill – which was signed in 1995 – mandates that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem by 1999, unless the president signs a six-month national security waiver. In June, Trump got his first chance to keep a campaign promise but instead, signed the waiver.
then asked Scott: “If Trump reconsiders this, will you go along with him? Will you disagree if he holds off?” The governor didn’t waver. “I believe the embassy ought to be in Jerusalem. That’s what I’m going to support.”
Shifting away from the delicate politics of Jerusalem, Scott emphasized jobs as he led a five day-long trade mission of 70 business executives, including the CEO of Florida Power & Light, to the Jewish state.
Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat urges Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. (Facebook/Nir Barkat - ניר ברקת)
The governor is meeting with a number of Israeli business executives to encourage investment in Florida. Florida’s trade relationship with the Jewish state is worth some $286 million annually, according to Scott’s office, and Enterprise Florida, a partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders, has a local office in Israel.
Tel Aviv reminded the governor of Miami, since “they’re both very entrepreneurial.” He added that residents of the metropolitan Palm Beach area – with its heavy Jewish population – were very supportive of Israel.
“There are a lot of people in Florida who are very financially supportive of Israel,” Scott said. “They’re constantly calling me and letting me know that we have to do more business with Israel.”
Due to that political support, the governor signed a bill in 2016 barring Florida from doing business with anyone affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“It’s disgusting that people think about doing that. Israel is a sovereign nation; Israel deserves to be respected like everybody else. There should be no antisemitism in the world. I’m going to do everything I can to stand with Israel.”
In terms of the Florida-Israeli relationship, Scott touted El Al’s recently launched direct flights from Miami to Tel Aviv, which run three times a week. He added that further memorandums-of-understanding (MOUs) were on the table for research and academic cooperation.
In 2013, both Florida and the State of Israel invested $1 million each in a joint aerospace and research MOU. Previous MOUs were signed between the medical schools at Florida Atlantic University and Haifa’s Technion. On Monday, Scott signed an MOU pledging cooperation between Tel Aviv University and Florida State University.
Scott gave an award on Monday to executives from Israeli aerospace company Stemrad, who has worked closely with Florida firms. He also thanked the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator for helping to set-up Israeli start-ups in Tampa.
Scott also touted how his 2017-2018 budget included $650,000 for security funding at Jewish day schools. Next year’s budget will include $1 million to protect Jewish pupils, which includes video cameras, fencing, bullet-proof glass and alarm systems.
The governor, who was elected in 2010, first visited Israel in an official capacity in 2011. This time, Ann Scott, Florida’s First Lady, came along as the governor’s main confidante.