Alternative envoy would receive ‘fast-track approval,’ Brazil pledges

Brasilia vows to publicly reject ex-settler leader Dani Dayan if Jerusalem insists on his appointment; Dayan starts ambassador’s course

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Dani Dayan participates in a panel discussion at the Israel Conference on Democracy in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)
Dani Dayan participates in a panel discussion at the Israel Conference on Democracy in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Persistent in its refusal to accept Dani Dayan as Israel’s new ambassador, Brazil is hoping to get Israel to withdraw his candidacy and nominate an alternative envoy, who would be approved exceptionally quickly, The Times of Israel has learned.

If Jerusalem rescinds the former settler leader’s appointment and taps someone else, he or she would get “fast-track acceptance,” a well-placed source in Brazil said. Brasilia would also reward Israel for withdrawing Dayan’s nomination by publishing a statement hailing the countries’ good bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, Brazil promises to remain silent about Dayan’s appointment as long as Jerusalem does the same. The government in Brasilia still hopes for Israel to understand that its failure to respond to Jerusalem’s request to provide Dayan with diplomatic credentials mean that it is diplomatically refusing to accept him and wishes for Israel to quietly nominate someone else.

If, however, Israel were to publicly pressure Brasilia to confirm the appointment — as Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced she would do last week — Brazil will not hesitate to announce publicly that it will not allow Dayan to serve as Israeli ambassador, due to his past leadership positions within the settler movement, the source said.

Senior leaders in Brazil’s Jewish community have recently spoken to Brazilian government officials and attempted to mediate between the two countries. There are about 120,000 Jews in Brazil.

On Sunday, the president of the Jewish Confederation of Brazil, Fernando Lottenberg, met with a senior official from the country’s foreign ministry. In the conversation, the two parties agreed to work together to find a way to end the diplomatic row amicably and salvage good bilateral ties. The government official asserted once more that Brazil is unwilling to accept Dayan’s appointment, and that this decision is backed by President Dilma Rousseff.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is unhappy with the appointment of Dayan as Israeli ambassador. (Photo by AFP PHOTO/EVARISTO SA)
President Dilma Rousseff (AFP PHOTO/EVARISTO SA)

Lottenberg and the Brazilian official agreed that the best way forward would be to approach officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry and urge them to convince Dayan to withdraw his candidacy, and to appoint someone else for the envoy job, according to the source. That person would be accepted within “a matter of days or weeks” and could enable “a fresh start” between the Jewish state and South America’s largest country.

“The Brazilian Jewish community is engaged in helping to try to find a solution,” Lottenberg told The Times of Israel. “We are talking intensely with both foreign ministries and with other parties trying to help, such as the World Jewish Congress the American Jewish Committee and other friends.”

The current row over Dayan, a former chair of the Yesha Council umbrella advocacy group for Jewish settlements, is merely “a diplomatic issue” and has nothing to do with anti-Semitism or the anti-Israel boycott movement, Lottenberg said. “Hopefully we can solve this regrettable situation and find a solution that can be mutually beneficial. The most important thing is the relation between the two countries and we hope that it can improve as soon as we can overcome this issue.”

Dayan declined to be interviewed for this article. While it appears unlikely that he will become ambassador to Brazil, he remains poised for a career in diplomacy. On Sunday, he started the Foreign Ministry’s course for heads of diplomatic missions.

Realizing that Brasilia will not accept Dayan, senior officials in the ministry have begun looking for ways out of the diplomatic impasse, with some recommending he be tapped as ambassador to a different country. His name is currently being mentioned as Israel’s next consul general in Los Angeles or New York.

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