DeSantis calls for heightened Iran sanctions, citing solidarity with Israel

by | Oct 10, 2023

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday proposed new sanctions on Iranian businesses in the state as a show of solidarity with Israel following attacks committed by Hamas.
  • The legislative proposals seek to increase sanctions on Iran and expand bans on Iranian-owned businesses, covering various sectors like finance, construction, manufacturing, and technology.
  • These sanctions would only be lifted when the U.S. President and Congress certify that Iran has ceased support for international terrorism and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Florida has a history of implementing sanctions targeting business activities with Iran, and the state has a strong business relationship with Israel, with increasing bilateral trade and partnerships between the two entities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced a series of new sanction proposals on Iranian businesses in Florida in a show of solidarity with Israel during its ongoing conflict with Hamas.

DeSantis proposed an increase in sanctions on Iran and an expansion of existing bans on Iranian-owned businesses operating in Florida. The proposed legislation, which will be deliberated during the forthcoming Legislative Session, would extend sanctions to various sectors, including finance, construction, manufacturing, textile, technology, mining, metals, shipping, shipbuilding, and ports.

“We should use all available avenues to choke off money going to the Iranian regime,” said DeSantis. “These will be, by far, the strongest Iran sanctions that any state has enacted through this country.”

Further, the proposed sanctions would prohibit state and local governments from companies that fall under the expanded sectors list.

The governor also indicated that the sanctions would only be lifted when both the U.S. President and Congress certify that Iran has ceased its support for international terrorism and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

“We know that we have an opportunity to do something forceful that will make a difference in terms of the substance,” DeSantis said. “You can count on us to be a friend and to be an ally of the state of Israel and of the Jewish people.”

Florida has previously implemented sanctions targeting business activities with Iran as part of the Protecting Florida’s Investments Act (PFIA). Under this act, the State Board of Administration (SBA) is required to maintain a list of “Scrutinized Companies” engaged in certain prohibited operations within Iran. These operations predominantly include activities within the petroleum or energy sector, oil or mineral extraction, power production, or military support in Iran.

Companies designated as Scrutinized Companies under PFIA face specific restrictions including the acquisition of securities issued by these companies, and, in certain instances, may be obligated to divest existing holdings unless corrective actions are taken to cease prohibited activities. The sanctions also extend to the SBA’s investment activities, preventing it from investing in U.S. institutions or companies conducting business with Iran.

For private companies involved in government procurement in Florida, the sanctions can lead to an ineligibility to participate in government contracts, bids, or proposals if they are listed as Scrutinized Companies or engaged in the targeted activities within Iran, as outlined in PFIA. Companies engaged in government procurement must provide certification to local governmental entities confirming their compliance with these sanctions, with false certification potentially leading to contract termination.

The State of Florida has long held a strong business relationship with Israel, with state officials recently visiting the nation on an international trade mission in April. During the trip, DeSantis announced a joint declaration between the state, the Israel Innovation Authority, and the Israel-American Chamber of Commerce to promote strategic partnerships and trade commerce between the two entities.

Between 2016 and 2021, bilateral trade between Florida and Israel increased by 18.2 percent, and by 44.5 percent between 2011 and 2021. In 2022, bilateral trade between Florida and Israel reached $651 million. Moreover, based on statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Israel is the twentieth largest foreign investor in Florida, accounting for 2,200 jobs.

The governor also announced a multi-million joint venture between Fort Lauderdale-based Avenger Flight Group and Israel Airlines. The partnership oversaw the construction of a new flight training center in Israel with simulators provided by Avengers, creating jobs both domestically and abroad.

In 2019, DeSantis led a trade mission to Israel to strengthen economic ties between the two governments. The trade mission included representatives from over 90 Florida businesses and organizations, making it one of the largest trade missions in the state’s history.

“We had our major trade mission in 2019 here, which was really historic,” said DeSantis in April. “We had a massive, massive delegation and we ended up signing more than 20 Memorandum Of Understandings (MOU) between universities, research centers, [and]government agencies with their Israeli counterpart. That’s everything from medical to space and everything in between.”

According to Enterprise Florida, Florida and Israel signed an MOU in 2013 to promote collaborative research, development, and commercialization of aviation, aerospace, and life sciences projects.

Under this agreement, the governments of Israel and Florida have matched each other, dollar for dollar, to establish a fund to provide grants to Israeli and Florida companies that present joint research and development projects for innovative technologies.


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