Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in a phone conversation with his Brazilian counterpart on Monday night, formally requested Brasilia’s approval of former Yesha Council of Settlements head Dani Dayan as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil.
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Ya’alon called Jaques Wagner after Israel’s Foreign Ministry learned that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff intended to reject the appointment, based on Brazil’s opposition to construction in West Bank settlements.
“Dani Dayan, a worthy person respected by all political elements in Israel, is the personal choice of the prime minister, reflecting the importance he attributes to a country such as Brazil,” Ya’alon told Wagner, according to a senior Israeli official who was speaking on condition of anonymity. The message from Wagner was that Dayan’s appointment process should continue, the official said.
The phone call was coordinated with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, as part of the attempt to win Brasilia’s approval of Dayan’s appointment. The Foreign Ministry had spoken with aides of President Reuven Rivlin about the possibility of a conversation with his Brazilian counterpart, but in light of the outcome of the Ya’alon-Wagner phone call it was decided that this would not be necessary.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid all spoke with Brazil’s ambassador to Israel, expressing their support for Dayan’s appointment. Their move came in the wake of report in Haaretz on Sunday, according to which former Israeli ambassadors had appealed directly to the Brazilian government, requesting that it not approve Dayan’s appointment since he has served as the head of the Yesha Council and opposes a two-state solution. They claimed that by approving the appointment, Brazil would legitimize the violation of international law.
Lapid wrote on his Twitter account that he doesn’t agree with Dayan’s political positions but thinks he will be an excellent ambassador. Lapid wrote that he told the Brazilian ambassador it was unacceptable for Israeli citizens living abroad to try to influence decisions by an elected government in Israel.
Edelstein instructed his political adviser Oded Ben-Hur to contact the Brazilian ambassador as well. Ben-Hur stressed that Dayan’s appointment is “well-considered, and that foolish yet serious attempts of former Israeli diplomats to foil the appointment should be rejected.” Edelstein commented that as a resident of a West Bank settlement he could recall an occasion on which he was ostracized by senior Brazilian officials, and this should also apply to Dayan.