Israel reverses course again: Dayan is still choice for envoy to Brazil

Brasil came under heavy pressure from Palestinians, left-wing NGOs, and left wing Israelis to reject Dayan on grounds that to accept him as envoy would be seen as legitimizing the settlements.

Dani Dayan. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Dani Dayan.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Ambassador-designate to Brazil Dani Dayan must have felt like a yo-yo on Thursday, as the Foreign Ministry first indicated he was no longer in line for the job, and an hour later said that he still was.
At about noon, the Foreign Ministry seemed to put an end to the saga regarding the appointment of Dayan – a former settlement leader whom Brasilia has not yet approved – when its spokesman issued a seven-word statement saying that a new tender has been issued to fill the ambassadorial post in Brazil.
Such a decision would have constituted a dramatic reversal, since Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in December that if Brazil did not approve Dayan, Israel would be served in the country by its No.2 diplomat there.
However, just a little over an hour after the initial message, the spokesman issued another statement, saying that Dayan remained Israel’s ambassador- designate, and that the issuing of a tender for the job was the result of a technical error.
Dayan, who was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the job last August, wrote on his Twitter account, “I was personally happy for an hour that I was freed from the embarrassing situation I am in, and felt sorry that the State of Israel gave in to boycotts. Now it is again the opposite.”
The appointment of Dayan, a former head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria and a resident of Ma’aleh Shomron in Samaria, was never approved by Brasilia, which came under heavy pressure from Palestinians, left-wing NGOs and leftwing Israelis to reject him on the grounds that to accept him as envoy would be seen as legitimizing the settlements.
No explanation of the “technical mistake” was given, though the tender was apparently issued because someone misunderstood Netanyahu’s intention following a meeting on the matter in recent days in the PMO.
Netanyahu has made a point over the last year of stressing the importance of relations with Latin America in general and Brazil in particular.
But Brazil refused to approve Netanyahu’s choice for ambassador, despite warnings from Hotovely that to do so would lead to a diplomatic crisis with Israel.
Hotovely said in December that 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.
Israel, Hotovely said, will tell Brasilia that Dayan is “a man who is respectable, worthy and accepted across Israel’s political spectrum.”
Jerusalem, she said, will 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.”
Dayan, who remained largely silent on the situation, did speak out in December, saying that the 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 at the time.
In recent months, there has been talk of naming Dayan as consul-general in Los Angeles or New York instead of sending him as ambassador to Brazil.