Left-wing Activists Ask Brazil Not to Accept Settler Leader's Ambassadorship

Agreeing to Dani Dayan's appointment would be tantamount to legitimizing settlement enterprise, delegation including three former Israeli ambassadors tell Brazilian government.

Moti Milrod

A group of left-wing activists, including three former Israeli ambassadors, have asked the Brazilian government not to approve the appointment of Dani Dayan as envoy to Brazil. Dayan is a former chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.

In a meeting two weeks ago with the Brazilian ambassadors to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the activists said that agreeing to Dayan’s appointment would be tantamount to legitimizing the settlement enterprise.

Those conducting this campaign belong to the diplomatic committee of the Peace NGO Forum, an organization that coordinates activities between Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that support a two-state solution. The forum is headed by former Meretz MK Mossi Raz.

The three senior diplomats lobbying against Dayan are former Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Liel, who is also a former ambassador to South Africa and was responsible for the Israeli Embassy in Turkey; former ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, and former ambassador to France Eli Bar-Navi. They, together with Raz and former Meretz city councilman Meir Margalit, met with the Brazilian ambassadors shortly after Dayan’s appointment was approved by the cabinet.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said late on Sunday that "Dani Dayan is the right man at this time to represent Israel in Brazil." Dayan's ideological beliefs, she said, are an advantage "when he comes as representative the policy of the government, which supports our right to settle Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)."

Under diplomatic protocol, a country interested in naming someone ambassador in another country must formally request that state’s written agreement to the appointment. If the country where the ambassador is to be posted does not issue a written agreement, the appointment cannot go through.

Liel told Haaretz that the group told the Brazilian ambassadors that Dayan, who lives in Ma’aleh Shomron is a settler who is ideologically committed to a policy that Brazil defines as illegal under international law. He added that the group related that Dayan opposes the two-state solution and that agreeing to his appointment would send a very negative message to all Palestinians and Israelis who support that solution, and would be a victory for those who support a binational state.

“We told them that Dayan is the foreign minister of the settlements,” Liel said.

Liel said that the Brazilian ambassador in Tel Aviv told the group that he would pass on their message to his foreign ministry in Brasilia, where Dayan’s appointment is currently being discussed. In addition to conveying the message through diplomatic channels, Liel said that he and the other two ambassadors are publishing an article this week against Dayan’s appointment in a large Brazilian newspaper.

Since Dayan’s posting was announced, groups in Brazil have also been working to scuttle the appointment. A group of pro-Palestinian activists have started to circulate a petition to the government asking not to accept Dayan as ambassador, and several Brazilian members of parliament are exerting pressure on President Dilma Rousseff to do the same.

At first Israel’s Foreign Ministry believed that Rousseff and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry would not yield to the pressure, but in recent weeks there have been signals suggesting concern from Brazil regarding Dayan’s appointment. Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Prime Minister’s Office would comment for this report.