Knesset foreign affairs chief: Ex-settler leader will not be Israel’s envoy to Brazil

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Former settler leader Dani Dayan will not become Israel’s ambassador to Brazil, a top Israeli government official reportedly said.

“We needn’t delude ourselves; Dani Dayan will not be the ambassador to Brazil. We condemn Brazil’s behaviour,” Tzachi Hanegbi, chair of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Sunday during a committee discussion on Brazil’s refusal to accept Dayan’s credentials, the Times of Israel reported.

Hanegbi reportedly said Dayan should receive an equally important position elsewhere.

Brazil has not accepted the appointment, made in September, and has indicated it is unhappy with the choice.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that if Brazil does not approve Dayan as its ambassador, Israel will not offer another diplomat.

Netanyahu’s apparent decision to stand by Dayan comes after various reports that Israel would withdraw Dayan’s name and instead give him the Israeli consulate general position in Los Angeles or New York.

Netanyahu tapped the former head of the settlers’ Yesha Council four months ago to serve as envoy to Latin America’s largest nation. The Brazilian government remained silent on the choice to signal an official rejection of Dayan’s credentials because of his settler past. A native of Argentina, Dayan, 59, currently lives in the West Bank settlement of Maale Shomron.

A group of 40 retired Brazilian diplomats signed a statement against the appointment of Dayan, complaining that Israel had bypassed protocol because there was no prior communication with the Brazilian Foreign Ministry or any presentation of his credentials for an agreement.

Nearly 4,000 Brazilian Jews and non-Jews signed an online petition in late December in defense of the appointment.

Brazil is home to a 120,000-member Jewish community, the second largest in Latin America, at nearly half the size of Argentina’s. Some 500 Brazilian Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015. Many in the Brazilian Jewish community say the government of President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Ignacio Lula, has fomented an anti-Israel environment.

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