Israel on Friday denied claims it was set to withdraw its controversial nomination of a former settlement leader as ambassador to Brazil after a six-month standoff between the two governments.
In a dispute that has soured relations, Brasilia has still not accepted the nomination of Dani Dayan, made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last August.
As first reported by The Times of Israel in December, Brazil’s government indicated that it would not accept Dayan’s appointment because he previously headed the Yesha Council, a committee representing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and because of the unorthodox way in which his appointment was announced.
Last Sunday, Tzachi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, suggested the government had accepted defeat.
“We needn’t delude ourselves; Dani Dayan will not be the ambassador to Brazil,” Hanegbi said during a committee meeting.
Then on Thursday, Brazil approved the appointment of a lower level diplomat after a slight delay, sparking rumors of a deal.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon rubbished suggestions Dayan had been sidelined.
“The official Israeli position is Dayan is the person appointed and we expect the Brazilian authorities to agree to the appointment,” Nahshon said.
“We don’t have a fallback position,” he added, calling the timing of Brazil’s approval of a new consul general a coincidence.
Dayan was born in Argentina and moved to Israel in 1971, aged 15.
He headed the Yesha Council of Settlements in the West Bank between 2007 and 2013, and is opposed to a Palestinian state.
Brazil recognized the Palestinian state in 2010, and regards Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal.