(JTA) — Israel’s deputy foreign minister said Brazil is likely to fuel a diplomatic crisis by withholding consent for its choice of ambassador, a former settler leader.
Tzipi Hotovely declared Sunday that the Jewish state will use a number of channels to secure the nomination of Dani Dayan, saying no other name will be put forward for the post.
Brazil has not officially signaled its apparent objection to Dayan since he was confirmed by the Israeli Cabinet in September to replace the current envoy. In September, President Dilma Rousseff expressed discomfort with Dayan’s appointment, saying it would signal “support for the settlement enterprise.”
The Argentina-born Dayan, 50, a former head of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements, was tapped for the post by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in August. The following month, Rousseff sent a back-channel message disapproving of Dayan’s appointment after leftist Brazilians and Israelis lobbied against it, but has taken no official action.
Dayan said in interviews over the weekend with Israeli media that Netanyahu “hasn’t pressured Brazil enough to accept my appointment.”
“This will change,” he added.
Brazil’s four months of inaction is seen by many as the response of a left-wing government. A Brazilian congressman compared Dayan’s appointment by Israel to the hypothetical nomination of a former Nazi concentration camp guard by Germany and the choice of a former torturer from the apartheid regime by South Africa.
Others say Brazil is retaliating for being called a “diplomatic dwarf” by a senior Israeli diplomat in 2014 after the South American nation recalled its ambassador for consultations to protest Israel’s attack on Hamas during that summer’s Gaza war.
Over 1,500 Brazilian Jews and non-Jews signed a pro-Dayan petition last week in response to a petition signed by nearly 200″progressive Jews” sent to Brazilian congressmen from openly anti-Israel parties objecting to the nomination.
“It is a totally outrageous and biased dual attitude against Israel,” Szyja Lorber, one of the pro-Dayan petition creators, told JTA. “Brazil has accepted ambassadors from countries like Iran, Sudan and Syria, which commit barbaric atrocities against their civil population, executions and human rights violations. The prejudice against Israel comes from senior officials in Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in a blind and near childish decision.”
Senior Brazilian military officials have expressed concern about the envoy furor, since Israel is providing technology for various military projects in Brazil, according to an interview published by Brazil’s most influential newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo.
In September, three senior Israeli politicians asked Brazil’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, Henrique Sardinha, to help ensure Dayan is confirmed to take over the embassy in Brasilia.
Israeli envoy Reda Mansour resigned in early December after serving only one year, citing family matters. A Druze-Israeli, Mansour was widely lauded as a representative to Brazil of Israel’s multiculturalism.
“Brazil and Israel have kept cordial diplomatic ties for 68 years, and such friendly countries must respect one another,” Osias Wurman, Israel’s honorary consul in Rio de Janeiro, told JTA. “The nomination of an ambassador is a sovereign act. Refusing a resident of an area currently under Israeli-Palestinian shared administration means creating second-class citizens in a country that does not accept such not even for its non-Jewish citizens.”