Argentina’s Jewish community will reportedly fund a large portion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to the South American country, prompting some complaints from Argentine Jewish leaders over the high cost.
After the country’s Jewish community agreed to foot some $100,000 of the bill, some Argentinian Jewish leaders having been looking for ways to lower the tab in a bid to instead divert funds to local Jewish causes, the Globes business daily reported Monday.
As part of the efforts to cut the trip’s cost, Jewish leaders have asked David Sutton Dabbah, an Orthodox Jew who owns the Alvear Palace Hotel, to lower the bill for Netanyahu’s stay at the hotel, according to the report.
Agustin Zbar, the president of the AMIA Jewish center, said the organization was funding a large part of Netanyahu’s trip “out of a feeling of solidarity.”
“Yes. Not all of his stay, but we, the Jewish community, are covering a great deal of the prime minister’s expenses, out of a feeling of solidarity,” Zbar told Globes, although he declined to say what specifically the Jewish community would be paying for.
Zbar also said he was told by the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that the prime minister’s trip was a “private” visit.
The Foreign Ministry told the paper in response that “the visit to Latin America is a working visit. Israel is paying the expenses,” while the Prime Minister’s Office said it had no knowledge of the Jewish community’s funding of the trip.
The report said a number of Jewish leaders were upset over having to pay for part of the trip, believing the money could be better used towards funding religious seminaries, aid for impoverished members of the Jewish community, and other social programs.
Luis Grynwald, a former head of AMIA and the current vice president of the DAIA Jewish umbrella organization, told Globes that Sutton Dabbah “does not need AMIA to pay for the prime minister, and it’s unreasonable for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow it,” although he conceded “I don’t have all the information.”
Zbar said the Jewish community expects Netanyahu to visit the AMIA building during his trip in order to honor the victims of the deadly 1994 bombing and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy, in which 85 and 29 people were killed, respectively.
Netanyahu’s visit in September to Argentina, which has one of the world’s largest Jewish communities, will mark the first-ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to a Latin American country.
In addition to Argentina, the prime minister will also visit Colombia and Mexico, before heading to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in the United States, where he will reportedly meet with US President Donald Trump.