Netanyahu keeps DeSantis meeting on down-low

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis posts meeting held during Israel visit, on Twitter while PMO deviates from years-long practice and fails to refer to it, release photos of the two men together or respond to questions
Ron DeSantis supports Israel
(Footage: Reuters, Itamar Eichner)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday during his visit to Israel, although the Prime Minister's office did not announce the meeting.
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In stark contrast to other meetings with American governors, no pictures were shared on social media or the PM's website. Netanyahu's spokespeople did not comment on the meeting.
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פגישתם של דסנטיז ונתניהו
פגישתם של דסנטיז ונתניהו
Netanyahu meeting DeSantis
(Photo: Florida gubernatorial office)
DeSantis himself was the one to share the news, posting a photo of the two on his own social media accounts with the caption "It's always fun to see Prime Minister Netanyahu!".
The photo shows that a working meeting took place with the participation of the Chief of Staff for National Security Tzachi Hanegbi, the Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, and Netanyahu's new political advisor Ofir Fleck.
Why did Netanyahu keep his meeting with Governor Ron DeSantis under wraps? In interviews leading up to the rendezvous, the Prime Minister hinted at the imminent meet-up with the Governor who is reportedly planning a presidential run.
But it seems Netanyahu is being coy, and for good reason, not wanting to stir up any political turmoil in the United States.
With DeSantis touted as a front-runner in the Republican leadership race against former President Donald Trump, and amid frosty relations between Netanyahu and the current US President Joe Biden, it appears the Israeli premier is hedging his bets. It is worth mentioning that Netanyahu has had his fingers burnt before in similar situations.
In 2012, his meeting with the then-Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, was perceived as meddling in the internal affairs of the United States and seen as a bet on Romney's victory over the incumbent President Barack Obama - a move that did not sit well with the latter.
Netanyahu's decision to conceal his meeting with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may seem odd, given that DeSantis is a legitimate governor of a large US state and a friend of Israel.
However, with Netanyahu's hope for an invitation to Washington, he is likely being cautious not to upset President Biden, especially with DeSantis potentially running against him in the future.
Furthermore, DeSantis convened with influential Republican donors at the Museum of Tolerance on Wednesday, signifying his preparation for a potential presidential campaign.
At only 44 years old, DeSantis emerged as a Republican Party figurehead after his sweeping re-election in November of last year as Governor of Florida.
His ultra-conservative ideologies and opposition to COVID-19 restrictions garnered national attention, bolstering his reputation among the party's more far-right members. He has also become known for his anti-LGBT agenda, actively opposing Disney and supporting efforts to limit their rights in Florida.
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Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Donald Trump still holds a commanding lead in primaries
(Photo: AP)
As early as next month, DeSantis is expected to announce his bid for the Republican Party's nomination, in June. If he does enter the race, it's estimated to be a head-to-head battle with Trump.
Current primary polls show Trump leading by a large margin at around 50%, with DeSantis in second place at about 25%. Mike Pence, Trump's former Vice President, receives about 5% support, while former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has announced her candidacy, only garners about 4%.
In spite of Trump's commanding lead over DeSantis in the current polls, his win in the primaries is not set in stone, and DeSantis may well gain ground once he formally declares his candidacy and takes the stage in televised debates.
The general election polls suggest that both candidates would put up a tough fight against Joe Biden, who recently announced his intention to seek reelection.
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