Argentina's Milei Lands in Israel, Announces Plans to Move Embassy to Jerusalem
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Argentina's President Javier Milei arrived in Israel Tuesday afternoon and immediately announced he would seek to move his country's embassy to Jerusalem. Milei became the first Latin American leader to set foot in Israel since the October 7th Hamas attacks.
It's the newly-elected Milei's first bilateral visit to another country, and he was welcomed heartily at the airport by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz. His entourage later traveled to Jerusalem where he prayed at the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites.
Milei is scheduled to make a solidarity visit to Kibbutz Nir Oz, an Israeli community near Gaza which was hard-hit during the Hamas massacre and kidnappings. He'll also visit Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial.
The Argentinian leader is expected to meet his counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday. Netanyahu congratulated Milei last December on his earlier election victory, calling him a "true friend" of Israel and inviting him to visit.
The Milei visit has generated excitement and gratitude in Israel because he has spoken of his desire to convert to Judaism and because of previous statements that he would explore an embassy move. An Israeli diplomat told The Times of Israel, "The positive statement (concerning the embassy) is important," and added, “We look forward to Argentina opening the sixth embassy in Jerusalem.”
Milei appointed his rabbi, Axel Wahnish, from the Buenos Aires Moroccan community, to be Argentina's ambassador to Israel. Wahnish is accompanying Milei while he is here.
The president's pro-Israel and pro-American views could represent a sea change in foreign policy for one of the major Latin American nations, although his first priority is reviving his country's unhealthy economy.
He plans to work for Argentina's designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization. Argentinians were among the hostages taken by Hamas in October.
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