(Bloomberg) -- President Javier Milei told Israeli officials that he plans to move Argentina’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, underscoring his efforts to use his first bilateral trip abroad to bring the two nations closer.
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Milei confirmed the plans to Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz upon arriving in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Diana Mondino, Argentina’s foreign minister, later said that no official decision has been made and that relocating the embassy would be a long process, according to Argentine news outlets.
The shift would make Argentina the largest nation to move its embassy since the US relocated to Jerusalem in 2018, and Milei’s desire to complete it highlights the clear pro-Israel stance he has staked out even as the country faces allegations of genocide and intensifying international criticism over its ongoing war in Gaza.
Milei has also said that he plans to label Hamas a terrorist organization, a move that would put Argentina at odds with other Latin American countries that have blasted Netanyahu’s strategy to eradicate the organization from the Gaza Strip.
Milei’s promises to strengthen ties with Israel began before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that sparked the current war, and his geopolitical plans often overlap with personal religious beliefs that have included his own journey toward Judaism. Milei has said that he intends to convert from Catholicism, and after winning the presidency flew to New York to visit the tomb of orthodox rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson before having lunch with Bill Clinton.
Read More: Milei’s Embrace of Judaism Seals Argentina Pro-Israel Stance
Milei visited the Wailing Wall and is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with President Isaac Herzog later Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will be received by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of his cabinet.
Milei is traveling with an Argentine rabbi he’s tapped to become his country’s ambassador to Israel, along with Mondino and his sister and adviser, Karina.
Milei has also moved closer to Jewish leaders in Argentina, which has the largest Jewish community in Latin America. Amid marathon talks with congress to push through his reform agenda, he set aside a day in January to speak at the country’s Holocaust Museum. He also counts Eduardo Elsztain, a real estate titan, among his closest allies in the business community.
After Israel, Milei will head to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis, whom he often criticized as having undue influence in Argentine politics. Since the election, both men have taken a pragmatic turn and agreed to meet. In Rome, Milei will also meet Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
--With assistance from Alisa Odenheimer.
(Recasts lead to include plans of embassy move.)
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