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Sen. Rick Scott returns from Israel after meeting with PM Netanyahu

U.S. Senator Rick Scott shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his latest trip to Israel.
Sen. Rick Scott's office
U.S. Senator Rick Scott shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his latest trip to Israel.

Senator Rick Scott has returned from his sixth trip to Israel. His trip came days after Israeli leaders were angered by the US allowing the United Nations security council to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The United States had the power to veto the resolution but abstained from the vote. In response, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled an Israeli delegation from meeting in Washington. Days later, Scott went to visit Israel.

Netanyahu told the Senator during his visit that he believes the resolution will embolden Hamas.

“Therefore, my decision not to send the delegation to Washington in the wake of that resolution, was a message to Hamas. It was a message first and foremost to Hamas don’t bet on this pressure it’s not going to work. And I hope they got the message,” he said.

During a press conference back in Florida, Scott said the US abstaining from the resolution was the wrong move. The conference was livestreamed on WINK News.

“I think everyone would like a ceasefire the day after Hamas is destroyed. OK. But to say you want a ceasefire Whether Hamas is destroyed and whether the hostages are back, that’s basically what the United State has abstained from. That makes no sense, and I think it sends the completely wrong message to Israel,” he said.

Scott’s decision to take the step to visit Netanyahu during such a politically contentious time could have electoral implications, said University of South Florida Political Science Professor Emerita Susan McManus. She said it may impact his current reelection race.

“When you are facing a US Senate race, and you are a US senator and you understand the ability to access a foreign leader like Netanyahu, you put that as part of you calculus for running for a statewide office. And it is clear that this could be a tighter race than the presidential race, at least that’s what polls are showing right now,” she said.

Current public polling in his race has primarily been paid for by Democrat-leaning sources. Those polls show him leading by 3 to 5 points. McManus said his visit could help consolidate support amongst some Jewish Floridians and pro-Israel Floridians but could turn others away from him.

“There are Jewish people who feel very strongly that Netanyahu should be removed, there are those that think he is doing a great job and keep him in. So obviously Senator Scott is aligning himself with those who feel like Netanyahu needs to be supported by the US and the UN,” she said.

The current Israel-Hamas war started after a Hamas attack in Israel killed over 1,000 people. Since then, the Gaza health ministry reports over 30,000 have been killed in Gaza, mostly women and children. Recent polling by Gallup suggests a majority of Americans disapprove of Israel’s military action in Gaza. It found most of the shifting opinion has come amongst Democrats and Independents.

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Tristan Wood
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