After Brazilian Rejection, Netanyahu Names Former Settler Leader as Israeli Consul General in New York

The move comes after Brasilia's months-long refusal to approve Dayan's previous appointment as ambassador to Brazil due to his previous affiliation with the settler movement.

Dani Dayan at a conference in Jerusalem, February 15, 2016.
AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Monday to appoint Dani Dayan the Israeli consul general in New York. In appointing Dayan, Netanyahu withdrew Dayan's apportionment as Israel's ambassador to Brazil after the Brazilian government refused to accept him due to former role as a settler leader.

Netanyahu tapped Dayan as Israel's ambassador to Brazil in August of last year. His appointment had also received the backing of lawmakers from the opposition. Dayan was due to begin his ambassadorship in October, but the required official acceptance by the Brazilian government didn't come through. Dayan's affiliation with the settlement enterprise, as well as a severe political crisis in Brazil, caused President Dilma Rousseff to delay the confirmation.

As time went by, more and more signs suggested that the Brazilian government was deliberately delaying Dayan's approval. Finally, senior Brazilian officials told the media that Brazil's refusal to confirm his nomination stems from his past as the head of the Yesha Council, and from the fact that Israel had violated diplomatic protocol by announcing Dayan's appointment without first coordinating it with the government in Brasilia.

Brazil's position led to a serious crisis in relations with Israel. Netanyahu stood by his appointment of Dayan for months without nominating anyone else. This meant that the Israel's diplomatic representation in Brasilia was downgraded to that of a deputy ambassador.

In February, in an attempt to resolve the crisis, Netanyahu offered Dayan the position of Israel's consul general in Los Angeles. Dayan rejected Netanyahu's proposal and instead asked for the role of consul general in New York. Netanyahu replied that he would consider his request.

Two weeks ago Netanyahu called a meeting with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold in which they discussed ambassadorial appointments, with the Brazil stalemate being one of the main topics. A day later, the Foreign Ministry's human resources department published an internal tender for the position of ambassador in Brazil.

The issuing of the tender made it appear as if Netanyahu had withdrawn from appointing Dayan as the Brazilian ambassador, as well as his decision not to nominate a new ambassador to Brazil in protest at the government's position in Brasilia. But following inquires by journalists, the Prime Minister bureau rushed to deny this and ordered the Foreign Ministry to cancel the tender. A few hours later the Foreign Ministry announced that the publication of the tender was "a technical error" and that it was canceled.

It now remains unclear if the tender will be republished and if a new ambassador will be tapped in Dayan's place. A senior official at the Prime Minister's Office said on Sunday that the policy set by Netanyahu hasn't changed and that Israel will not be appointing a new ambassador at this stage. Foreign Ministry officials, however, estimated that the policy will change in a few weeks' time and a new ambassador will be nominated to put an end to the crisis with Brazil.

Dayan said on Monday morning that the decision to appoint him Israel's consul general in New York was made due to the crisis with Brazil. "Those who did not want me in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, will get me in New York, the capital of the world," he told Army Radio. "I believe that Israel should be the subject of bipartisan support in the United States. I will not only preach to the converted. I will know how to speak with everyone there, from the ultra-Orthodox to Reform [Jews], to liberals and to conservatives. I will not boycott anyone."

Dayan is expected to replace veteran diplomat Ido Aharoni, the current consul general in New York, for a five-year term starting this summer.