Israel seems to be backing off an effort to appoint settler-advocate Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brazil. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced that he was naming Dayan—who has “devoted” much of his life to “expanding the Jewish presence in…disputed historic places across the West Bank”—in a Tweet in early August. For months, Brazil’s foreign ministry, popularly known by the name of the building it works out of—Itamaraty—stalled on approving the appointment, signaling to Jerusalem it wasn’t happy with Dayan. Then, in December, Brazilian officials began to leak to the Israeli press that Dayan’s credentials wouldn’t be recognized.
More recently, last week, a group of 40 retired diplomats issued a collective protest against Dayan, complaining of, among other things, the way Netanyahu violated accepted procedure. It is protocol to quietly ask first for “agrément” before making a public announcement—that is, approval that “the receiving State…will welcome the person who has been chosen as the ambassador.” The retired diplomats in effect accused Netanyahu of trying to “settlerize” the diplomatic process, to, in their words, “establish facts” on the ground, and then wait for acceptance of those facts to become inevitable.
Beyond protocol, Dayan, who was born in Argentina, represents pretty much everything Latin American foreign policy has opposed in recent years, including the relegation of Palestinians to permanent refugee status and the assertion that occupation of their lands is legal. Dayan’s been effective (“worldly and pragmatic,” according to The New York Times) in pushing Israel (and the United States) to the right when it comes to settlements. In 2012, for instance, in the middle of the US presidential race, he published an op-ed in the Times titled “Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay:”
If the international community relinquished its vain attempts to attain the unattainable two-state solution, and replaced them with intense efforts to improve and maintain the current reality on the ground, it would be even better. The settlements of Judea and Samaria [as Dayan insists on calling the West Bank] are not the problem—they are part of the solution.
Such positions are anathema to Latin American diplomats. Netanyahu might have gotten away with appointing Dayan as ambassador to Panama, Honduras, or the Dominican Republic. Not Brazil.