Brazil’s continued failure to approve the appointment of ex-settlement leader Dani Dayan as Israel’s ambassador will lead to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely warned on Sunday.
Hotovely, in a an interview on Channel 10, said the current ambassador to Brazil, Raed Mansour, returned to Israel last week, and that Jerusalem has no intention of naming anyone to replace him other than Dayan.
If Dayan is not approved, Israel will be represented in Brasilia by its No. 2 diplomat there.
Hotovely and Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold met in the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter to discuss what steps to take in light of Brazil’s’ continued failure to approve Dayan’s appointment.
Netanyahu did not take part in the meeting.
The prime minister announced Dayan’s appointment in August, but Brazil has since refused to approve it, with the government there coming under pressure from Palestinians, and from far-left circles in Israel and Brazil, not to accept the appointment because Dayan lives in Ma’aleh Shomron – beyond the Green Line – and is the former head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria.
Hotovely said there has never been a case where an Israeli ambassadorial appointment has not been accepted by a host country because of the candidate’s ideological positions.
She attributed the situation to the deep political crisis in which Brazil currently finds itself, with President Dilma Rousseff facing impeachment proceedings and needing all votes – including from the far-left that is championing the move to keep Dayan out – to remain in power.
Hotovely said Israel was now bringing its campaign to get Dayan approved out from behind the scenes and into the open, and will use all the means at its disposal to get it approved, including waging a public campaign in Brazil, mobilizing the Jewish community there, and not naming a replacement for Mansour.
These steps will be taken, she said, to tell Brasilia that Dayan is “a man who is respectable, worthy, and accepted across Israel’s political spectrum.” Jerusalem, she said, will use these steps to say to Brazil, “Approve him, because if not we are talking about a crisis in relations between the two countries, and it is not worth going there.”
After months of remaining silent on the matter, Dayan said on Saturday night in an interview on Channel 2 that the issue was not a bilateral matter between Israel and Brazil, but rather a “classic BDS” (boycott, divestment and sanctions) issue that BDS activists in Israel, among the Palestinians and in Brazil have pounced upon.
He called in that interview for Israel to change its tactics on the matter, and to move from a position of “sitting and doing nothing,” in the hope that the matter will be quietly resolved, to taking a more aggressive stance.
Dayan said there was “an optical illusion here,” and that at issue was not whether he would be Israel’s next ambassador to Brazil, but rather whether any resident of Judea and Samaria would ever be able to be an ambassador for Israel.
Brazil’s refusal to approve him was tantamount to labeling people from the settlements, not products from the settlements, he said.
If, indeed, settlement residents are disqualified from serving as ambassadors because of where they live, then former ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor, a resident of Kfar Adumim, would not have been able to serve, nor would have Alan Baker, a resident of Har Adar, been able to serve as the envoy to Canada.
Dayan said the initial assessment in Jerusalem that if the issue were just kept quiet, it would go away and he would get the appointment, has turned out to be false, and that now new tactics were needed.
“I think that just as Israel reacted sharply about labeling products, it has to react to labeling people. Labeling people is worse than labeling goods,” Dayan said.
Following the EU’s decision to label settlement products last month, Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry to suspend contacts with EU institutions when it comes to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. “I think the government, the state, has to take a stand on this issue,” Dayan said.
“The question is not whether I will be the ambassador to Brazil or not, what will be determined now is whether the next settler, the next resident of Judea and Samaria who is chosen to be an ambassador, can fill a diplomatic role, or whether we will agree that the 700,000 Israelis [living beyond the Green Line] are not eligible to be ambassadors.”
Dayan said that while Israel has taken a quiet approach on the matter, the Palestinians have been actively trying to torpedo his appointment, with PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat “up to his neck in the matter.”
The San Paulo newspaper Folha De S. Paulo quoted Erekat last week as saying Brazil would lose trust if it agrees to the “war crimes, apartheid and colonization, which is what Dani Dayan represents.”
Erekat said Dayan was an “illegal settler whose work is to justify Israel’s criminal colonization of Palestine.”
Meanwhile, Folha reported on Friday that the Brazilian military has come out against continuing to hold up the appointment, saying this could disrupt the transfer of military technology from Israel to Brazil.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has actively been lobbying Brazil’s defense minister in an effort to get Dayan’s appointment approved.
Folha quoted a senior Brazilian army officials as saying that continuing to hold up the appointment showed a “lack of geopolitical vision and objectivity of action. For the Armed Forces, it was a very sensitive situation, since our partnership with Israeli hi-tech firms is huge.”
This led Celso Amorim – Brazil’s foreign minister from 2003 to 2011, and then defense minister from 2011 to earlier this year – to retort, according to the paper, that it is “time the Brazilian Armed Forces reduced its dependence on Israel.”
“We can’t continue to be overly dependent on Israeli technology. It’s time to diversify our suppliers,” Amorim was quoted as saying. “To accept as ambassador a person who was a leader of settlement policies in Israel would be a tacit acceptance of this policy, which Brazil opposes.
It’s not possible to approve this ambassador.”
Amorim also raised another sore point in the appointment: that it was announced publicly by Israel without consultation with Brazil.
Dayan is a political appointment who was selected by Netanyahu, and the announcement of the appointment was made over the summer by the Prime Minister’s Office.
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