Possible presidential candidate Ron DeSantis says US should not 'interfere' in Israeli affairs

Possible presidential candidate Ron DeSantis says US should not 'interfere' in Israeli affairs
At a conference at Jerusalem's Museum of Tolerance, potential US Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis labelled Israel as one of the United States' "most valued and trusted" allies.
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DeSantis is on an international tour in an attempt to bolster his foreign policy credentials [Getty]

Potential US presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said on Thursday that Washington should "respect Israel’s right to make its own decisions about its own governance" amid criticism of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to overhaul the judiciary.

DeSantis made the comments during a conference at Jerusalem's Museum of Tolerance, where he called Israel "one of the most valued and trusted" allies of his country

The Florida governor also noted his opposition to pro-Palestinian campaigns, which pressure Israel to comply with international law, his support for US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and a 2019 solidarity trip he made to an illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

During the conference, he critcised the Biden administration for its "record" with Israel, emphasising that the US should be a strong ally to Israel", and that they "should not butt" into the country's international affairs.

At the conference, the presidential candidate hopeful added that he trusted the Israeli people "to be able to work these things out", in reference to the planned judicial overhauls which have prompted weeks-long protests by Israelis since January this year,  according to the Israeli daily, Haaretz.

DeSantis also echoed Israeli "concerns" about regional foe Iran, which he blamed for the death US military personnel in Iraq during his own service stint there, Reuters said.

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DeSantis' comments came after US President Joe Biden stated that Israel "cannot continue down this road" regarding Netanyahu's plans to overhaul the judiciary.

His tour is reportedly aimed to bolster any foreign policy credentials as he vies to become a potential Republican candidate for the 2024 US elections.

Moreover, the US government, as well as a number of EU states, criticised Israel in February over its legalisation of nine settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are deemed illegal under international law. Palestinians say that settlements threaten the viability of an independent Palestinian state.

During the conference, the Florida governor reportedly boasted about the southern state's record against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, which seeks to uphold the notion that Palestinians are entitled to equal rights, and demands that Israel must adhere to international law.

DeSantis also took issue with the categorisation of the West Bank as occupied territory, Haaretz said.

Israel began occupying the territory in 1967, after it invaded following the Six-Day War, and has since subjected Palestinians to violence, and forced expulsions among numerous human rights violations.

In 2023 alone, Israel has killed over 90 Palestinians, and has injured and arrested hundreds more.

Reuters contributed to this report.