Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman: Let's Drop the Illusion, Dani Dayan Won't Serve as Envoy to Brazil

MK Tzachi Hanegbi says Israel shouldn't waste time waiting for Brasilia to accept Dayan's appointment, and instead assign him to a diplomatic position 'in a capital no less important.'

Knesset Members Tzachi Hanegbi and Nahman Shai at the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, February 7, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

The chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said Sunday that former settler leader Dani Dayan will not be Israel's ambassador to Brazil in light of the refusal of the government in Brasilia to approve his appointment.

Brazil has yet to inform Israel officially of the appointment's rejection and still has several months to deliberate. 

 "We cannot at present allow our illusions to cause us to waste time. It's a shame to delude ourselves," MK Tzachi Hanegbi said.

Hanegbi made the remarks at a committee meeting on Brazil's refusal to accept the ambassadorial appointment of Dayan, the former chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, also known as the Yesha Council. The meeting was convened at the request of MK Nahman Shai (Zionist Union).

Shai opened the meeting by saying that the fact that the Brazilian government is rejecting the appointment because it doesn't agree with Dayan's political opinions is unacceptable. "The decision to appoint Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brazil is not a political issue. The government decision should be honored. He represents the opinions of the government," he said.

During the short discussion, Hanegbi said that in light of the existing situation the affair should be concluded quickly. A different ambassador should be appointed to Brasilia, and Dayan should receive an alternative senior diplomatic position, Hanegbi said.

"We have to focus on ensuring that Dani Dayan will not pay an overly high personal price and to find a quick solution, rather than awaiting the decision that will or won't be made in Brazil," he said. "The message to Brazil should be that whoever doesn't want Dani Dayan as an ambassador in Brasilia will get him as an ambassador in an equally important capital."

MK Anat Berko (Likud) told Hanegbi that this means other countries can dictate which ambassador Israel can or cannot pick. "We can't allow that," she said.

Hanegbi rejected her comment. "They've already dictated to us," he said. "It's not a matter of feelings but of Israel's interest." Shai agreed with Hanegbi. "It's impossible to leave Brazil without an ambassador," he said. Modi Ephraim, the head of the Latin American Division in the Foreign Ministry agreed. "That's true. It's a very important country," he said.

A representative of the Foreign Ministry said at the meeting that to date, Brazil has not informed Israel officially of the rejection of the appointment or the refusal to accept Dayan as ambassador. "They haven't given an official reply for five months, and according to the Vienna Convention they can deliberate for an entire year," he said. According to him, the Brazilians claim that one of the reasons that Dayan's appointment hasn’t been accepted was the fact that Israel did not inform them in an orderly manner and that they heard about it from the media. "It really isn't an acceptable way of announcing an appointment," said the Foreign Ministry representative.

Ephraim, the head of the Latin American Division, said that Israel held contacts with senior officials in Brazil in an attempt to bring about approval of the appointment. He said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the chairman of the Brazilian Congress, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon spoke by phone with his counterpart in Brasilia. "During the talks the Brazilians asked us to wait," he said. "We worked quietly with Israel's friends in Brazil in order to bring about approval of Dani Dayan's appointment, but we're still waiting."