December 13, 2017

Argentine-born settler advocate nominated

Monday, December 28, 2015

Israel warns Brazil over envoy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (right) are locked in a diplomatic battle over the proposed appointment of an Argentine-born pro-settler envoy.

Gov’t warns Brasilia that refusal to OK new diplomat, Argentine-born Dani Dayan, will hurt ties

JERUSALEM/BRASILIA — Israel pressed Brazil to climb down yesterday, saying that the government’s continuing refusal to accept an Argentine-born pro-settler politician, nominated as the country’s official envoy to Brasilia, would seriously damage future relations between the two countries.

The apppointment four months ago of Dani Dayan, a West Bank settler who was born in Buenos Aires, has set off a dramatic diplomatic crisis and led to concerns in the Israeli government that the clash could encourage pro-Palestinian activism against it.

The decision to tap Dayan, a former head of the Jewish settlement movement, did not go down well with Brazil’s left-leaning government, which has supported the cause of Palestinian statehood in recent years. Most world powers deem the Jewish settlements illegal.

Israel’s previous ambassador, Reda Mansour, left Brasilia last week and the Israeli government warned Brazil yesterday that they were risking a degrading of bilateral relations if Dayan were not allowed to succeed him.

Over the weekend, the Buenos Aires-born envoy went on the offensive to defend his nomination, telling Israeli media that Netanyahu’s government was not doing enough to press Brazil to accept him. Dayan said not doing so could create a precedent barring settlers from representing Israel abroad.

“The Foreign Ministry, including the foreign minister who is also the prime minister, believe up to this point that the way to deal with the situation that has been created is a policy of sit and do nothing,” Dayan told Israeli daily Haaretz.

“The Israeli response to the current instance will determine how the host country for the next ambassador from Judea and Samaria is appointed, or heaven forbid, create a reality in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis are disqualified from serving as ambassadors because of their place of residence and that Israel will be reconciled to it.”

Dayan continued his push on TV, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 station.

“What is happening in Brazil, in this case, is labelling people,” Dayan said. “I suddenly realized that principle is the issue, which requires a decision on the matter. I also realized that there are those who think a policy of inaction is the best answer. But they are wrong, and the issue is far more fundamental than the question of whether I become the ambassador to Brazil or not.”

No backing down

The Israeli government underlined yesterday that it will not change its nomination for the post, even at the risk of hurting bilateral relations.

“The State of Israel will leave the level of diplomatic relations with Brazil at the secondary level if the appointment of Dani Dayan is not confirmed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel’s Channel 10 TV, saying Dayan would remain the sole nominee.

She said Israel would lobby Brasilia through the Brazilian-Jewish community, confidants of President Dilma Rousseff and direct appeals from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hotovelyu said in a statement that Israel “would view the disqualification of the Dayan’s appointment based on his political views with gravity.”

“The Foreign Ministry will use all the tools at its disposal to have Dani Dayan’s appointment go through,” she said. “The state of Israel will not accept the phenomenon of disqualifying an ambassador over ideological background.”

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has reportedly involved himself in the issue, lobbying for Dayan’s swift approval.

Brazilian government officials declined to comment on whether Rousseff will accept the nomination of Dayan. But one senior Foreign Ministry official told Reuters: “I do not see that happening.”

The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak officially on the matter, said Israel would have to choose a different envoy because the choice of Dayan has further worsened relations that turned sour in 2010 when Brazil decided to recognize Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and settled. Israel quit Gaza in 2005 but claims East Jerusalem as its indivisible capital and wants to keep swathes of West Bank settlements under any eventual peace deal with the Palestinians.

Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, angered Israel by drawing Brazil closer to Iran.

‘Diplomatic dwarf’

Tensions between the countries rose last year when an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman called Brazil a ‘diplomatic dwarf‘ after Brasilia recalled its ambassador from Israel to protest a military offensive in Gaza.

Brazil’s government was also angered by the announcement of Dayan’s appointment by Netanyahu in a Twitter message on August 5 before Brasilia had even been informed, let alone agreed to the new envoy, as is the diplomatic norm. Normally however, most diplomatic appointments are accepted by governments.

Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said ties with Brazil were “good and important,” noting Israel’s recent opening of a new consulate in Brazil and the business opportunities for Israeli security firms during the Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Israel has a considerable role in providing avionics technology for Brazil’s aerospace and defence industry.

Celso Amorim, a former Brazilian foreign and defence minister, said on Friday that the diplomatic dispute over Dayan’s appointment showed that “it is time the Brazilian Armed Forces reduced their dependence on Israel.”

Other figures in Brazil have also spoken out. Lawmaker Carlos Marun, in remarks reported by the Ynet website, said back in August that Dayan’s proposed appointment was an “insult.”

“We can’t accept such provocation. It would be like Germany sending to Brazil as an ambassador a former concentration camp guard, like Chile sending as an ambassador to Brazil a prison guard from the dictatorship, or South Africa sending a prison torturer from the apartheid period.

“I have nothing against the existence of the State of Israel, whose borders are already recognized and take up 85 percent of Palestine,” Marun, of the government-aligned Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) said. “These settlers are agents of Zionism that the world can’t accept. They are thieves of others’ land. In what is an insult to Brazil, an insult to the government, and an insult to millions of Brazilians whose origins, like mine, are from the Arab world — Israel chooses to send the leader of these settlers to represent it in our land.”

Articles in the Brazilian press have said that Palestinian officials have now involved themselves in the case, with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Saeb Erekat reportedly having told Brasilia that the country would ,lose trust if it agrees to accept Dayan. One story in ther Folha de S. Paulo daily earlier this month however said that Brazil’s military is actively lobbying for Dayan’s approval, saying further delays to the process will hurt the crucial transfer of military technology.

Herald with AP, Reuters

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