Israel vows to fight Brazil’s rejection of envoy pick

Deputy foreign minister says Jerusalem will use ‘all the tools at its disposal’ to get appointment of ex-settler leader Dani Dayan on track

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) seen with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely during a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on December 21, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) seen with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely during a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on December 21, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel on Sunday vowed it would push the appointment of former settler leader Dani Dayan as envoy to Brazil, despite opposition from the Latin American country to the candidate.

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.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel would “use all the tools at its disposal” to clinch the appointment.

“The State of Israel will not accept the phenomenon of rejecting an ambassador for ideological reasons, and we will use diplomatic means to clarify this in the clearest way possible,” she said.

A meeting was held in the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday to discuss how to proceed with the stalled appointment.

Meanwhile, an unnamed Brazilian official ruled out Dayan’s appointment. “I do not see that happening,” the official told Reuters.

The official said ties with Israel had deteriorated since Jerusalem announced it had selected Dayan as its envoy.

On Saturday night, Dayan said Israel must respond strongly to Brazil’s refusal to accept him as the new ambassador, 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.

Yesha Council former head Dani Dayan (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)
Former head of the Yesha Council Dani Dayan (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

“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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