“Your stalwart support for Israel in so many forms is deeply, deeply appreciated. Welcome to Jerusalem. Welcome, friend,” said the Israeli prime minister.
By Charles Bybelezer
February 7, 2024
(JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday at his office in Jerusalem with Argentine President Javier Milei, who has promised to move his country’s embassy to the capital and designate Hamas a terrorist group.
“I’m delighted to welcome you, President Milei, and your delegation, to Israel. You’re a great friend of the Jewish state. We are delighted with your decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move your diplomatic post there, and also, of course, an embassy,” began Netanyahu.
“We share the desire for prosperity, security and peace. We know that the greatest challenge to peace in our area, but also in yours, is Iran. And we appreciate the cooperation that we are doing with you in security and diplomacy.
“Your stalwart support for Israel in so many forms is deeply, deeply appreciated. Welcome to Jerusalem. Welcome, friend,” added the premier.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog hosted Milei at his official residence on Tuesday evening and presented him with a Hebrew Bible in appreciation of his firm support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
“The people of Israel have immense warmth and friendship with Argentina, and your visit here exemplifies the unique relationship that we have with Argentina, and the fact that we have so many Israelis whose family originated from Argentina,” said Herzog.
“You have shown your love and affection, both for the Jewish people and the nation-state of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and we thank you wholeheartedly for this,” he added.
Said Milei: “I have been committed since day one to making sure that my first diplomatic visit as president would be to the State of Israel. Here I am, keeping my promise now.”
‘One more token of the historical closeness’
Milei described his visit as a “concrete testimony to the commitment we’ve had from the very first day of the terrorist attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.”
Argentina had “not only condemned the terrorist actions by Hamas,” he continued, “but also expressed our solidarity with the State of Israel and have continued to support Israel’s right to legitimate self-defense in this context.”
Milei also said that he had sent a proposal for a bill to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Argentina’s National Congress, “precisely demanding the release of hostages, all hostages, of course.”
He is also working on a project to declare Hamas a terrorist group, calling this “one more token of the historical closeness, and support and friendship between our peoples.”
Milei arrived in Israel earlier on Tuesday and immediately reiterated his pledge to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem and open a new chapter in bilateral relations.
The three-day solidarity trip, which is one of his first visits abroad since taking office two months ago, signals a major shift in Buenos Aires’s policy towards the United States and Israel after decades of backing Arab countries.
The presidential trip will also include a visit to a kibbutz on the border with Gaza that was hard-hit by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre, a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and a stop for prayer at the Western Wall.
An unabashedly public philo-semite, Milei has appointed his rabbi, Axel Wahnish, who is accompanying him on the visit, as Argentina’s next ambassador to Israel. The small delegation also includes Argentina’s foreign minister, Diana Mondino.
An iconoclast and political outsider, Milei was elected in November amid a burgeoning economic crisis and skyrocketing inflation that has long beleaguered the large South American country. A week after his election victory, he visited the United States for government meetings, stopping at the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in Queens, N.Y.
His staunch support for Israel both ditches decades of unequivocal backing for Arab countries in the predominantly Catholic Latin American nation and contrasts with neighboring Brazil, whose leftist leader, President Lula da Silva, has been highly critical of Israel’s war in Gaza.