Israel

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COMMENTARY

If you’re Hispanic and still need to be convinced your vote can actually swing a general election, I could point you to Florida or Nevada or Ohio.

But I think Israel is a more convincing place for you to look to right now.

Israel's second election in less than six months looks unlikely to clear up its political impasse, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again falling short of a majority in parliament and forced to scramble for allies to retain power.

Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party is projected to win 30 to 33 seats in the 120-member Knesset, while the centrist Blue and White party led by former military chief Benny Gantz looked likely to get 32 to 34 seats.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, faces his toughest political battle for survival in years, as the country holds unprecedented repeat elections Tuesday.

This is the second time Israelis are going to the polls in less than six months. Netanyahu, 69, forced the do-over in a last-minute move, just weeks after April elections, because he secured a narrow win but failed to build a parliament majority.

At a news conference Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a controversial new campaign pledge: If reelected in next week's general election, the longtime Israeli prime minister said he plans to annex a significant chunk of the occupied West Bank.

"Today I announce my intention, upon forming the next government, to impose Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea," Netanyahu told reporters in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, potentially staking out an official claim on roughly a third of the land in the West Bank.

Updated at 12:40 p.m. ET

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., says she's canceling her visit to Israel and the West Bank.

Israel's interior ministry announced Friday that it would allow Tlaib to enter the country as a private citizen to visit her aging grandmother, after it banned her and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from going on a political trip amid pressure from President Trump.

Total Cost For Gov. DeSantis, Florida Cabinet's Trip To Israel Released

Jul 15, 2019

By Ana Ceballos / News Service of Florida

More than a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Cabinet members wrapped up a six-day trip in Israel, the price tag of the mostly privately funded trip was revealed on Friday. 

ABACA PRESS/MCT

Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest is reverberating in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party are calling for a criminal probe into former prime minister Ehud Barak’s personal and business ties with the accused sex trafficker, Israeli media is reporting.

Jeffrey Schweers / Florida Society of News Editors

When Florida Cabinet members jetted off to Israel in late May, some state employees who traveled at taxpayer expense stayed in a more than $400-a-night luxury hotel in Jerusalem, where a Cabinet meeting was held.

More than a month after the trade mission ended, the full cost of the trip, proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is not clear.

DeSantis Trip To Israel Concludes After Blitz Of Partnerships And Politics

May 30, 2019
Jeffrey Schweers / Florida Society of News Editors

JERUSALEM – At the end of the day for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, it was about building relationships, making new connections and checking in with familiar political allies.

DeSantis spent the last day of his marathon mission to Israel meeting with embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with the Cabinet and several lawmakers before placing a prayer in the Western Wall for Florida’s safety this hurricane season and a prayer from a Panhandle girl who lost her house in Hurricane Michael.

DeSantis to meet with embattled Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu

May 30, 2019
Jeffrey Schweers / Florida Society of News Editors

JERUSALEM - After yesterday’s historic and controversial Florida Cabinet meeting in a U.S Embassy Annex, Gov. DeSantis started his last day in Israel with a trip to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for a partnership signing ceremony between the University of Miami and Hebrew University.

At a press briefing, DeSantis rated the business mission a success so far, with a historic number of MOUs, Memorandums of Understanding, signed.

Miami Herald

While traveling in Israel this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis has twice said Florida should lift economic sanctions on the home-sharing platform Airbnb after the company reversed course on a move to delist about 200 West Bank properties.

Early this year, the governor said the company’s policy to remove listings in the West Bank, an area that is a major flash point in Israeli-Palestinian relations, was “dumb” and “discriminatory,” and pushed for sanctions. In early April, the company changed its policy.

Judge Turns Down Bid To Block Cabinet Meeting In Israel

May 29, 2019

A Tallahassee judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet by open-government advocates, who made a last-ditch effort to stop a Cabinet meeting in Israel because they argue it will violate the state’s open-meeting laws.

Trip Builds To Cabinet Climax After Day Of Legal Wrangling

May 28, 2019
FLORIDA SOCIETY OF NEWS EDITORS

TEL AVIV – A marathon Tuesday of partnership signings was followed by a victory lap at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv with the anticipation of a celebratory Cabinet meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem today.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, leader of a trade mission of nearly 100 people to Israel this week, was greeted at a networking reception as a conquering hero by U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who said “Israel has no greater friend in all the 50 governor’s mansions than Ron DeSantis.”

Space And Water Take Center Stage On Day 3 Of Governor's Trade Trip To Israel

May 28, 2019
jeffrey Schweers / Pool / Florida Society of News Editors

JAFFA, ISRAEL – Tuesday’s agenda for the trade mission to Israel being led by Gov. Ron DeSantis is long and all about the business of space, security and protecting the state's water resources.

First up was a trip through the old town of Joppa to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, founded by late president Shimon Peres in 1996.

Drones, Drips And Dems: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried Takes Her Own Path In Israel

May 28, 2019
Jeffrey Schweers / Pool / Florida Society of News Editors

TEL AVIV – Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried – the state’s highest ranked Democrat and first Jewish woman on the Cabinet – arrived in Israel several days ahead of Gov. Ron DeSantis and his entourage of nearly 100 legislators, lobbyists, business people and academics.

She wanted to conduct her own fact-finding mission to see what she could learn that could benefit Florida farmers. She said Israel is basically situated in a desert but has been able to create “survivorship” by emphasizing agricultural technology.

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