DeSantis boasts of groundwork on the Jerusalem embassy move in new book
In a forthcoming book, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claims to have laid the groundwork for the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and assails U.S. State Department officials for being “dead wrong” about that move’s impact.
Warnings about how the move might affect tensions in the region, DeSantis writes in The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival — an advance copy of which was reviewed by the Forward — were “an example of why following the advice of the conventional DC experts class is almost always a mistake.”
“The consistent response from these so-called experts was that relocating our embassy to Jerusalem would be a geopolitical disaster,” he writes. “None even entertained the idea that moving our embassy would serve our national interests.”
In 2017, DeSantis, at the time a congressperson, traveled to Israel to scout possible sites in Jerusalem for the relocated embassy, which former President Donald Trump had made a campaign promise to move. DeSantis “wanted to create a sense of inevitability” that would ensure Trump would follow through, he writes, boasting that the location he initially suggested for a Jerusalem embassy “ended up being the site that was selected by the Trump administration.”
“By my lights,” DeSantis writes, the embassy move was the right thing to do “because Jerusalem was the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” He suggested that the Trump administration’s move, in addition to the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, opened a path to broker the normalization deals between Israel and Arab countries in 2020, known as the Abraham Accords.
DeSantis is one of several outspoken supporters of Israel considering a bid for the presidency in a Republican primary next year.
Many of the well-known potential candidates — including Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who have already launched their campaigns — strongly advocated for the embassy move. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also possible contenders for the Republican nomination, both focused on their roles in the embassy move in recently published memoirs.
Trump recently launched a number of personal attacks against DeSantis, mocking him as “meatball.” His allies have falsely claimed that liberal Jewish billionaire George Soros is backing DeSantis’ bid.
As a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem. But he only announced a formal decision to pursue the change in December 2017, a year into his administration. DeSantis, at the time the chair of the House subcommittee for national security, met with U.S. personnel from the State Department and intelligence agencies at the embassy in Tel Aviv as part of the preparation for the move.
On that trip, DeSantis also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly feared the implications of such a risky move.
In 2018, DeSantis, then a candidate for Florida governor, attended the Jerusalem embassy opening ceremony. A year later, during an official mission to Israel, he brought his entire Florida cabinet for a meeting at the embassy.