Stymied envoy to Brazil urges government to fight back

Former settler leader Dani Dayan says Brasilia’s opposition to his appointment risks a precedent where settlers are deemed unsuitable for overseas service

Former Yesha Council leader Dani Dayan (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)
Former Yesha Council leader Dani Dayan (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

Israel must respond strongly to Brazil’s refusal to accept him as the new ambassador, former settler leader Dani Dayan said Saturday night, expressing concern that the move could see the start of a new phenomenon in which Israelis living in the settlements are classed as unsuitable for foreign postings.

Dayan was named as envoy to Brasilia in August, and endorsed by the Israeli cabinet in September, but Brazil has maintained a frosty silence on the appointment rather than issuing the customary confirmation.

“The lesser question is whether I am ambassador to Brazil or not,” Dayan told Channel 2’s “Meet the Press” on Saturday evening. “The question we need to pose now is whether the next settler deemed suitable to be an ambassador can fill a diplomatic posting – or do we agree that 700,000 Israelis are unable to fill these roles?”

A senior official in Brasilia said last week that Brazil will not accept the former head of the Yesha Council of Settlements as Israel’s next ambassador. Following diplomatic protocol, the official said, Brazil will simply not respond to Israel’s months-old request to confirm Dayan’s nomination, waiting until Jerusalem gets the hint and proposes a different envoy to its capital.

“What is happening in Brazil, in this case, is labeling people,” Dayan said, referring to the European Union decision to label Israeli goods made in the West Bank and Golan Heights. “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.”

Dayan said that the state should take an equally firm stance against those who oppose his appointment as was taken against the EU decision.

Netanyahu last month suspended discussion of the conflict with the Palestinians with EU officials, in response to the bloc’s decision to label goods imported from Jewish settlements.

The prime minister “ordered suspension of diplomatic contacts with the institutions of the European Union and its representatives on this issue,” the Foreign Ministry said in a Hebrew-language statement. The suspension of ties on peace talks will remain in place “until the reassessment is completed,” it said.

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