Diplomatic Crisis with Brazil: PT Government Rejects Appointment of Settler Leader as Ambassador

Israeli officials expressed concern on Friday, December 18, over a brewing diplomatic crisis with Brazil as the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) government there has thus far refused to accept the appointment of Dani Dayan, a settler leader, as Israel’s ambassador to Brasilia. Dayan, the onetime chairman of Yesha (the Council of Settlements in Judea and Samaria) in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, was named ambassador to Brazil four months ago, yet his credentials have yet to be approved by the authorities of the South American giant.

Dani Dayan, Israel’s designated ambassador to Brazil, whose appointment the South American giant refuses to accept

Dani Dayan, Israel’s designated ambassador to Brazil, whose appointment the South American giant refuses to accept (BBC screenshot)

Brazilian officials are known to be uncomfortable with Dayan due to his far-right political views, namely his stated opposition to Palestinian statehood. Dayan, a prosperous hi-tech entrepreneur and the founder of Elad Systems, is a resident of the Ma’aleh Shomron settlement, was the head of Yesha from 2007–2013. The opportunist Dayan has been a member of both the Likud and Bayit Yehudi far-right parties. He ran unsuccessfully for the Knesset on the Bayit Yehudi’s list in the March 2015 elections.

The previous ambassador to Brazil, an Israeli Druze, Rada Mansour, returned to Israel earlier last week. Since Mansour’s departure Israel’s main diplomatic mission in Brasilia has been managed by his deputy. During Israel’s deadly Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014, Mansour was summoned by the Brazilian authorities for censure over the Israel’s disproportionately harsh response to Palestinian rocket fire.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash) sent a letter to PT Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff requesting that she not approve Israel’s appointment of Dayan as envoy to Brazil. “Dayan has consistently acted with blatant disregard for international law and norms, and has been spearheading various initiatives that directly violate the Palestinian people’s basic rights,” Jabareen wrote in his letter to the Brazilian president.

In his message to Rouseff, Jabareen quoted from an op-ed article authored by Dayan and published by the New York Times in 2012 in which the latter defended the expansion of the settlements in the occupied West Bank. “Dayan is a settler who is ideologically committed to the development of the settlements – a policy Brazil recognizes as illegal under international law,” Jabareen wrote. “Approving his appointment as ambassador would legitimize his criminal ideology and practices, and send a resounding message that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people has no consequences in the international arena.”