As the U.S. on Monday fulfilled President Donald Trump’s pledge to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the U.S. Senate campaigns of Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson exchanged fire over Scott’s attendance at the event.
Scott was in Jerusalem on Monday for the ceremony opening the U.S. Embassy and tweeted a picture of himself with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He declared on Twitter that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital marked “a great day for Florida, Israel and the United States. FL will continue to stand with Israel.”
Nelson also tweeted his support for the embassy move while adding that problems remain in the Middle East.
“Today we celebrate the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to its appropriate place in Jerusalem. But the hard work of helping bring about a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must go on,” Nelson said.
Later Monday, Nelson campaign manager Marley Wilkes blasted Scott for attending the ceremony while a storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Rick Scott is in Israel instead of minding the store at home. With a threat swirling in the Gulf, Rick Scott is using taxpayer dollars to promote his campaign, proving once again, he has abandoned his job as governor. Per usual, Rick Scott is putting himself and his political career over the interests and safety of Floridians,” Wilkes said.
Scott campaign spokesman Ryan Patmintra fired back at Nelson.
“The accusation from Bill Nelson is highly insensitive and diminishes the global importance of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem – not to mention to many Floridians. Is this really coming from a man who has been on 32 taxpayer funded junkets over his half century in office?” Patmintra said.
Scott tweeted and retweeted notices about the storm during the day and late in the afternoon told Twitter followers he “just spoke with @FLSERT Director Wes Maul about the potential severe weather in the coming days. I encourage all Floridians to take the proper steps to prepare so that you and your family can stay safe.”
Florida Republicans generally showered praise on the embassy move Monday while Democrats expressed support in more muted terms. One Democratic supporter of the move — U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton — said he wanted to attend the ceremony but wasn’t invited by the White House.
“While I wasn’t there today, I would have loved to have participated in this historic and moving embassy dedication. Despite reaching out to the Administration, I was not invited to be a part of the official American delegation, but I look forward to visiting our embassy in Jerusalem next month,” Deutch said.
Some other reactions from Florida members of Congress:
• Republican Sen. Marco Rubio: “Today is truly a historic day for America’s unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel … The unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital comes after presidents in both parties stalled our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. So I truly appreciate the Trump Administration for implementing U.S. law and finally moving our embassy.”
• U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City: “Like every other sovereign nation, Israel has the right to determine its own capital. The United States is finally recognizing the truth by moving our embassy to the center of freedom in the Middle East and the capital of Israel, Jerusalem … The Hamas-led terrorism erupting around the Middle East reaffirms that those who oppose Israel’s sovereignty are fueled by a murderous and hate-driven ideology in stark opposition to these values. Today’s move sends the clear message that the United States will support our allies and won’t tolerate affronts to human dignity.”
• U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach: “Opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, symbolizes the enduring friendship between our nations. While I join Americans and Israelis in celebrating, I remain disappointed by the absence of a serious commitment to the two-state solution. Divorced from a broader peace process, relocation risks more violence between Israelis and Palestinians. I urge the Administration to put forward a plan with the goal of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”
• U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach: “Jerusalem is, and always will be, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. While I am pleased to see this commitment come to fruition, I remain concerned about its impact on the security of our embassies and consulates throughout the world … The United States must continue to play a leading role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and support a two-state solution that provides for peace, security, and mutual recognition for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”