While the Argentine Congress this Tuesday analyzes point by point the mega-law with which it wants to promote its government, President Javier Milei will visit the Western Wall. Milei will begin his first international tour on Tuesday in Jerusalem, a week-long trip split between Israel and Italy during which he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The Argentine Congress is nearing the final stages of passing the Presidential Omnibus Law. On Friday, the House of Commons voted for the law after a month of negotiations. It was a semi-victory: besides, the government had to delete almost half of its 664 articles, and there is still the debate about each individual article, which will cause further rifts. This Tuesday, MPs will debate some of the most contentious points of the reform – such as the transfer of legislative powers, the distribution of federal tax revenues between the provinces and the privatization of public companies – to submit the bill to the Senate. Argentina still doesn't know what legislation will come from Congress this week, and Milei will be absent from the debate, which leaves in limbo much of the reforms on which he bases his government proposal.
The president boarded a commercial flight on Monday afternoon that will fly him back to Jerusalem via Rome almost 24 hours later. In Israel, where he will spend three days, Milei will visit the Western Wall and meet with Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, as well as rabbis, Israeli businessmen and relatives of victims of the Hamas militia attack in October. He will also plant a tree in the Jewish National Fund's Forest of Nations, a protocol act during visits by foreign leaders. Milei will be the first president to do so since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out in October last year.
For Milei, it will be much more than a diplomatic trip to show his solidarity with Israel amid the conflict. The Argentine president, who grew up Catholic, has announced several times that he wants to convert to Judaism. In November, during his first trip as president-elect, he traveled to Washington to meet with senior White House officials and made a stop in New York to visit the grave of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect the Lubavitchers , which he had visited before asking for blessing to be elected president. Milei has not appeared in public during the two months of his presidency, but he has been the star guest of the Jewish community of Buenos Aires at its major events: at the end of December he was a speaker at the Hanukkah celebrations and for a month he was a speaker at the opening of the Maccabees -Olympic Games and at the end of January he visited the Shoah Museum in the Argentine capital on the International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Holocaust.
“In the face of the global resurgence of anti-Semitism, we must maintain our position of intransigence against terrorism and not look the other way,” Milei said at the time, pledging Israel’s full support in the war against Hamas. “I am also committed to strengthening our diplomatic, commercial and friendly relations with the State of Israel,” said the president, who announced during the campaign that he planned to move the Argentine embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision would contradict United Nations resolutions recognizing the city as a special regime due to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and would follow fewer than a handful of countries that have made the gesture to close borders with Israel in light of the conflict Conflicts like the United States during the administration of Donald Trump. Netanyahu himself thanked him for “his intention to move the Argentine embassy to Jerusalem” in a call on December 4, when Milei still had a week left to assume the presidency.
On Thursday, Milei will head to Italy and the Vatican, where she will attend the canonization of Argentine nun María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, nicknamed “Mama Antula,” who will become Argentina's first Catholic saint. After the event, Milei will have a private audience with Pope Francis, which Argentines will watch with excitement. The president even went so far as to call the pope, who has not set foot on Argentine soil since becoming pope in 2013, an “idiot” and a “dirty leftist.” Milei apologized for the grievances and invited the Pope to visit his country by letter. Francisco did not respond publicly, but announced before the elections that he planned to visit his country this year. Milei's first international tour ends on Monday, February 12, with a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
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