The Argentine President, Javier Mileibegan his visit to Israel this Tuesday with a controversial statement in which he announced the highly sensitive “plan” for the transfer immediately after getting off the plane Jerusalem the embassy your country currently has near Tel Aviv.
“Of course my plan is to move the embassy to West Jerusalem,” the president said as Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz met him at the foot of the plane at Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.
On his second trip abroad since taking office in December, Milei said he wanted to express his “support for the people of Israel” and defend “the legitimate defense” of the Hebrew state against “the terrorists” of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office welcomed the announcement, which represents a diplomatic confirmation of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as an indivisible capital.
Hamas, which has been at war with Israel since October in the Gaza Strip, a territory it has ruled since 2007, responded to the announcement with a “strong” condemnation of the Argentine president’s plans.
It would be “a violation of the rights of our Palestinian people to their land and a violation of the norms of international law to consider Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian land,” Hamas said.
Currently, the Argentine embassy is in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, where the vast majority of diplomatic missions are located.
If Milei keeps his promise, Argentina would be one of the few countries to have its main diplomatic mission in Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv.
The United States moved its city there in 2018, under the presidency of the controversial Donald Trump, after recognizing the city as Israel’s capital.
Before leaving Buenos Aires, Milei, an economist who has grown closer to Judaism in recent years and whose country is home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community, pointed out that Israel, like the United States, was an important ally of Argentina.
This Tuesday, the South American leader met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and explained that Argentina plans to declare Hamas a “terrorist group”.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem
The territorial dispute over Jerusalem, an important city for Jews, Christians and Muslims, is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United Nations granted it special international status in 1947.
But after the war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, the city was divided.
Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War in June 1967 and then annexed it. Israel considers the entire city to be its indivisible capital.
Since then, Jerusalem has been under Israeli rule, but the Palestinians claim the eastern part as the capital of their future state.
After his arrival, the Argentine president visited the Western Wall in East Jerusalem, the holiest place of prayer for Jews, where he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
Some in attendance chanted his campaign slogan, “Long live freedom, damn it!” in Spanish, and others waved Argentine flags.
Milei looked excited, his eyes red as he approached the wall. He spent several minutes there with his forehead touching the stones and his arms outstretched, an AFP journalist observed.
A meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planned for Wednesday.
During his trip, Milei will hold meetings with businessmen and rabbis, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and visit one of the kibbutz attacked by Hamas commandos, who launched a surprise attack in southern Israel on October 7 that left about 1,160 dead .
The Argentine president is specifically planning a meeting with relatives of those kidnapped by Hamas.
In retaliation for the Hamas attack, Israel began bombing the Gaza Strip on October 7. According to Hamas, more than 27,000 people were killed in its air and ground attacks.
From Israel, Milei will travel to Italy on Monday to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican and meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.