On the surface it appears that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to resolve one diplomatic problem by creating another — ending a standoff with the government of Brazil over his 2015 appointment of Dani Dayan to serve as ambassador by reassigning the former leader of the settler movement to the post of consul general in New York.
Netanyahu announced this week that Dayan, 59, an Argentina-born, successful businessman who was a leader of the Yesha Council in the West Bank, will succeed Ido Aharoni. The move came about after Brazil’s government had refused for many months to accept Dayan’s appointment because of his affiliation with the settler movement and opposition to a two-state solution.
Aharoni, a popular figure here who avoided controversy over Israeli policies, has served six years in his post, and was due to step down.
Dani Dayan now joins Danny Danon — names starting with “D” seem to be key to Jerusalem’s diplomatic appointments here — who serves as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations and is also an outspoken critic of a two-state solution. In a recent interview with The Jewish Week, Danon said he, in effect, keeps his personal political views to himself and carries out the policies and positions of his government.
But that’s part of the credibility problem the two key diplomats, and their boss in Jerusalem, face.
Dayan, who proved to be an articulate, sophisticated and pragmatic leader of the settler movement, may well choose his new platform to promote his political views here. In a text message this week he wrote: “I believe in my ability to bring about a revolution in Israeli public relations in North America, and New York is its beating heart.”
Even if he chooses, or is directed, to keep his controversial views private, it is clear that he and Danon don’t believe in the official stand of their government. And that leads back to Netanyahu, who serves as foreign minister as well as prime minister, and to questions about the authenticity of his own public support for a two-state solution.
The issue of where Israel stands on the settlements and the Palestinians is clouded rather than clarified when its foreign ambassadors appear to say one thing and believe another. The latest appointment may well cause confusion, if not disappointment, among American Jews who overwhelmingly support a two-solution.
Either Netanyahu doesn’t care, choosing to base his diplomatic appointments on political expediency, due to the nature of his ruling coalition, or he does care — and his purpose is to sow seeds of doubt about Jerusalem’s true views.