Guaido to designate rabbi as Venezuelan Ambassador to Israel

Venezuela officially severed diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009 in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

By
August 14, 2019 17:52
2 minute read.
Juan Guaido gives the thumps up to supporters, as he attends a rally

Juan Guaido gives the thumps up to supporters, as he attends a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela February 2, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/ANDRES MARTINEZ CASARES)

Venezuela’s self-declared leader Juan Guaido has announced that he will appoint an ambassador to Israel, the Venezuelan TV channel VPItv reported on Tuesday.
 
According to a tweet by the country’s National Assembly, Venezuelan rabbi Pynchas Brener has been contacted for the post. Born in 1931, Brener was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Israelite Union of Caracas in 1967, according to the union’s website. Since 2011, he has lived in Miami.



Venezuela officially severed diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009 in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 Gaza War.
 
Earlier this year, Guaido stated that he would work to restore relations between the two countries.
 
After emerging as leader of the opposition to Nicolas Maduro, Guaido was elected president of the National Assembly in December 2018. The opposition party had won a two-thirds majority of congress in a landslide 2015 vote, taking control of the assembly for the first time in 16 years.
 
Maduro’s government, however, refused to recognize any of its decisions.

In January, after Maduro started his second term as Venezuela’s president among protests and international condemnations for the lack of democratic legitimization, Guaido invoked a clause in the constitution in order to assume a rival presidency.
 
He has been recognized by more than 50 countries, including the United States and Israel, as Venezuela’s president.
 
“Before [Maduro’s predecessor Hugo] Chávez, every president of Venezuela visited my home on one occasion or another, and also visited my synagogue,” Brener said in May in an interview with Providence Magazine, a US publication focusing on Christianity and American foreign policy.
 
“Under Chávez, things began to change as the government began to make alliances with states such as Iran and related non-state actors such as Hezbollah, which historically have been hostile to Israel and Judaism – and because of these relationships, the government under Chávez became more rhetorically hostile to us,” he added.
 
“This increasingly hostile environment is one of the primary reasons, in addition to Venezuela’s general collapse under Chavismo, that the Jews of Venezuela have emigrated in large numbers to neighboring Latin American countries or to the United States, as I have done,” the rabbi said, adding that about 80% of the community has left since Chavez came to power.
 
Should Brener be appointed, he would be the first Venezuelan ambassador to Israel since diplomatic ties were severed in 2009.
About 5,000 Jews currently live in Venezuela.
Reuters contributed to this report.


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