Argentina’s maverick Javier Milei pledges to move embassy to Jerusalem, Bibi praises ‘dear friend’
Argentina’s headline-grabbing new president has promised Israel that he will move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
'For me, it is a pleasure, an honor to be here,' Argentinian President Javier Milei said upon his arrival in Israel on Tuesday. 'I am keeping my promise to have my first diplomatic visit to Israel. I'm here to convey my support of Israel against Hamas terrorists, my support for the people of Israel who have the right for self-defense.'
'Obviously, my plan is to move the embassy to western Jerusalem,' he announced. 'So for me it's a great pleasure to be here. Thank you.'
Milei arrived in Israel this week for a three-day trip, accompanied by Argentinian Foreign Minister Diana Mondino and his personal Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish. Milei does not practice Judaism but has talked about potential conversion, The Times of Israel reported.
'I thank you for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and for your announcement now to relocate Argentina's embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,' Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said of the decision. 'Welcome to Israel, Mr. President.'
Katz declared Milei 'a person of values who is committed only to the truth' and thanked him for his support 'in the just struggle for the defense of the Jewish people against the murderers of Hamas.'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Milei a 'dear friend' and welcomed him following the announcement and intent to move the Argentinian embassy.
Terrorist group Hamas said Tuesday that it 'strongly condemns' Milei’s decision and viewed the move as 'an infringement of the rights of our Palestinian people to their land, and a violation of the rules of international law, considering Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian land,' the Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
Most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, but some countries, such as the United States, have recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved their embassies in support of the claim. Former President Donald Trump made the move in 2018.
Milei’s visit included a stop at the Western Wall, where he tearfully embraced the wall, and met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, with plans to meet with Netanyahu and members of Israel’s war cabinet on Wednesday.
Herzog and Milei plan to visit Kibbutz Nir Oz, located near the border with the Gaza Strip and one of the areas most heavily hit during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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