Israel backs down from controversial pick of Brazil envoy

Friday 25/03/2016
Dayan sees his appointment to New York as a victory

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed down on Monday from his attempts to appoint a former settler leader as ambassador to Brazil, which has since August refused to accept the nomination.

Netanyahu "decided to appoint Dani Dayan as consul general in New York. He will replace foreign ministry career official Ido Aharoni, who is completing his term," the prime minister's office said in a statement.

The move puts an end to a nearly eight-month standoff that soured relations with Brasilia.

Brazil did not accept the nomination of the former head of the main West Bank settlements organisation who opposes a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu had refused to reconsider the nomination, insisting that Dayan was the appropriate appointee and the only one Israel would be offering Brazil.

On March 17, the foreign ministry published a tender for the position, signalling it was dropping Dayan's nomination, only to swiftly retract it as an "unfortunate bureaucratic mistake."

Diplomatic sources said on Monday that the tender would most likely now be reissued.

Dayan himself said his appointment to New York was a victory over Israeli advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, that targets Israel over its occupation of the West Bank.

Dayan said the activism of Israeli BDS advocates against him had legitimised Brazil's refusal to accept his nomination.

"I think those elements who did not want a settler leader in Brasilia, got a settler leader in the world's capital, so ultimately this is a victory over the BDS," he said at a conference on combating BDS in Jerusalem.

Dayan's new appointment was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely as "an important statement to the world" that Israel stood behind a settler "as a faithful and worthy representative of the state."

Dayan was born in Argentina and moved to Israel in 1971, aged 15.

He headed the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank between 2007 and 2013.

Brazil recognised the Palestinian state in 2010. Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal under international law.

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