Despite pressure from Israel, Brazil will not accept Dani Dayan, a former head of the Jewish settlement movement, as its Israeli ambassador, Reuters reported on Sunday.
The contentious appointment was initially announced four months ago by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and approved in Israel two months ago, but it has yet to be approved by the left-leaning Brazilian government.
Reuters reported that a senior Foreign Ministry official in Brazil said of Dayan’s appointment, “I do not see that happening.”
The official added that Israel would have to choose a different ambassador, and that its choice to appoint Dayan has worsened already strained relations between Brazil and Israel.
In 2010, Brazil angered Israel by recognizing Palestinian statehood in Judea, Samaria, east Jerusalem and Gaza, and effectively denying Jewish sovereignty in those areas.
Dayan, who is Argentinian-born, headed the Yesha Council, an organization of municipal councils of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, from 2007-2013. He resides in Maale Shomron, a community in Samaria.
The announcement of Dayan’s appointment as ambassador to Brazil sparked immediate protest from Israel’s political left. A group of leftist Israeli diplomats even told the Brazilian government not to accept it. According to the group, accepting Dayan as Israeli ambassador would be an implicit legitimization of the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria.
According to diplomatic protocol, it is within a country’s right to refuse a certain foreign ambassador, but it is highly unusual to do so. However, it seems unlikely that Brazil will accept Dayan, especially in light of comments made by a Brazilian member of Parliament comparing the Israeli diplomat to a Nazi officer.
MP Carlos Marun said last week that sending a “settler leader” to represent Israel in Brazil would be “like Germany sending to Brazil a former concentration camp commander as an ambassador”.
He also said Dayan was analogous to a prison guard or a torturer, comparing the situation to “Chile sending to Brazil an ambassador who is a prison guard from the dictatorship, or South Africa sending a prison torturer from the apartheid regime.”
The Israeli government has said that it will not withdraw the nomination or choose an alternative ambassador. On Sunday, the government said that bilateral relations between the countries are at risk if Brazil does not accept the appointment.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Channel 10, “The State of Israel will leave the level of diplomatic relations with Brazil at the secondary level if the appointment of Dani Dayan is not confirmed.”
Over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry, led by Hotovely, held an emergency meeting regarding the subject of Dayan’s appointment. The Ministry decided on several measures aimed at pressuring Brazil into accepting Dayan.
Among the measures were summoning the Brazilian ambassador for a clarification on the subject, using Israeli representatives with contacts in Brazil, and mobilizing the local Jewish community in Brazil to show support for Dayan.