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Netanyahu mulls another controversial envoy to Brazil

After former settler leader was nixed, PM considers Yossi Sheli, once barred from public office, to be ambassador

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israeli parliament in the assembly hall of the Knesset, June 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israeli parliament in the assembly hall of the Knesset, June 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Less than one year after Brazil’s unprecedented rejection of a former settler leader as Israeli ambassador, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a candidate who once was barred from public office to instead represent the Jewish state in Latin America’s largest nation.

Yossi Sheli, a former businessman, has no diplomatic experience or state advocacy credentials, Ynet reported Wednesday.

The Israeli ambassador slot has been vacant since December, when Reda Mansour left the post. Brasilia rebuffed ex-settler leader Dani Dayan as the choice to succeed Mansour.

The Prime Minister’s Office has already approached the Committee for Appointments in the Foreign Service seeking its approval for Sheli’s nomination, according to the Hebrew-language Ynet news service.

Sheli was barred from public office for three years after admitting he had not declared his political affiliation despite being a Likud member at a time when he acted as chairman of the Israel Postal Company’s board of directors and director general of the Beersheba municipality, the report said.

He came under the scrutiny of Jerusalem attorney’s office in 2008, which issued an indictment alleging that he had presented false affidavits to the Public Services Authority. He was found guilty of perjury and fraud.

In 2012, Sheli signed a plea bargain in which he admitted to the charge of breach of statutory duty without permission. According to the deal, he was forbidden from serving the state until June 2015, Ynet reported.

Dori Goren, a seasoned diplomat with 30 years of experience, is expected to assume the Israeli consulate general in Sao Paulo as his colleague prepares to end his assignment in Brazil’s largest city, which is home to the nearly half of the country’s 120,000-strong Jewish community.

Fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish, Goren served as ambassador to Uruguay and held other diplomatic positions in Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. Born in Jerusalem, he served as second secretary at the Israeli embassy in Brasilia in 1987-1988. His name was approved in February by the Brazilian government.

The embassy in Brasilia and the Sao Paulo consulate have been Israel’s only diplomatic institutions in Brazil since the Rio de Janeiro consulate was closed years ago. Israel has honorary consuls in Rio and Belo Horizonte.

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