Just seconds after entering Israel, Javier Milei, on his first bilateral visit as Argentine president, reiterated his intention to declare Hamas a terrorist organization and move the country's embassy to Jerusalem, a controversial decision made by only five countries. including the United States during the Donald Trump administration. This happened in a short conversation with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who received him on the steps of the plane this Tuesday. For Milei, it is the fulfillment of two promises: moving the embassy and visiting the Jewish state in another country since he took office in December. For Israel, this is a diplomatic reprieve in the midst of the Gaza war, which is worsening the country's international image: Not everyone wants to be photographed shaking hands with their leaders.
Milei has not officially announced the embassy move. He is expected to do so in the next two days, after his meetings with President Isaac Herzog or with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, Israeli authorities were quick to express their joy and took it for granted.
A few minutes after landing, Netanyahu's office expressed “satisfaction” that Milei had “kept his promise” and announced “the relocation of the Argentine embassy to Jerusalem,” currently located in the city of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv. “Thank you for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and now announcing the relocation of the Argentine embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” the Foreign Minister said. Hamas has “strongly condemned” the decision, which “portrays Argentina as a partner of the Zionist occupier.” [Israel] in their violations of our Palestinian people and their national rights.”
Thank you, Mr. President. @JMilei for his statement about the relocation of the Argentine embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the capital 🇮🇱🇦🇷
Long live freedom, damn it! pic.twitter.com/h1VO2kNuAs
— ישראל כ“ץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) February 6, 2024
This makes Argentina the second most important country with an embassy in Jerusalem. Almost all states have it in Tel Aviv (which is not the capital) or in nearby cities, considering that doing so in Jerusalem would mean taking a position on the city's status, something both parties will have to decide on in eventual peace negotiations. . Palestinians are seeking to turn the eastern part of the city – which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed – into the capital of their future state.
Since Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognized the city as Israel's capital in 2018, a decision that broke with decades of foreign policy and that his successor Joe Biden has maintained, only Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papua New Guinea have been affected They imitated it. Other countries such as Paraguay and Australia did so but later reversed the decision.
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Already on the plane, Milei explained the goal of his three-day trip: “I will express my support for Israel against the attacks of the terrorist group Hamas, express my solidarity with Israel and defend its legitimacy.” Right to defense.” It is the political one dimension, to which, as he admitted, there is added another “spiritual” dimension. Milei was raised Catholic but has been approaching Judaism for years and has frequently announced his intention to convert. You could see it at his first stop, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, where he began to cry with emotion and hugged his rabbi, Axel Wahnish, whom he plans to appoint ambassador to Israel. He also lit a candle in memory of the victims of the Hamas attack on October 7.
On his lapel, Milei wore the yellow ribbon of the movement for the return of the 136 Israeli hostages remaining in Gaza, 31 of whom are dead, two more than the previous estimate, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari announced on Tuesday. Three countries (Qatar, Egypt and the United States) have brokered their exchange for a ceasefire lasting several weeks, the release of numerous Palestinian prisoners and the delivery of further humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a tour of the region to reach a ceasefire, has assured in Doha that he will discuss with the Israeli authorities, where he will land this Wednesday, Hamas's response to the proposed will analyze the agreement. “There is still a lot to do, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and even necessary,” he said. At his side, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani described the Islamist movement's reaction as “positive”, although the details have not yet been finally clarified. The proposal was also forwarded by the Qatari mediator to the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad. Its details “will be carefully considered by officials involved in the negotiations,” the prime minister’s office said. US President Joe Biden said it was “a bit exaggerated” but that he also saw “some movement” on the matter. The main difference is that Hamas calls for a permanent ceasefire while the Netanyahu government categorically rejects it.
In his purest style, the Argentine president approached dozens of people (many of them originally from Argentina, the Latin American country with the largest Jewish community) who cheered him and shouted “Am Israel Jai” (El People of Israel) for selfies with them to do live, in Hebrew) and “Long live freedom, damn it!”, the phrase that Milei repeated at the end of his inaugural speech. One gave him an Argentina national team jersey with the number 10 and the words “Javier Milei” in Hebrew; Another shouted at him that he had left the military base (there are hundreds of thousands of Israelis mobilized) just so he could see him.
Javier Milei, during his visit to the Western Wall.ATEF SAFADI (EFE)
Milei will not only meet with Netanyahu and Herzog. Also with several ministers, rabbis, business people and relatives of victims of the Hamas attack. He will also plant a tree in the Jewish National Fund's Forest of Nations. It is a protocol act, but he will be the first president to do so since the start of the Gaza war.
He will arrive in Rome on Friday to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. President Sergio Mattarella and Pope Francis at the Vatican, where he will attend the canonization of the nun María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, nicknamed Mama Antula, who will become the first Catholic saint in Argentina. The audience with the Pope is expected to be a topic of conversation. Milei even went so far as to call Francis an “idiot” and a “disgusting leftist” who has not visited his home country since becoming pope in 2013. Milei has apologized for the insults and invited Francis to the country, who is considering doing so in the second half of this year.
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