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Moving Argentinian Embassy to Jerusalem could harm relations with Muslim world, analysts tell Arab News

SAO PAULO: President Javier Milei’s plan to move the Argentinian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he announced on Tuesday during his visit to the Middle Eastern country, could have negative consequences for relations with the Muslim world, analysts have told Arab News.

If the plan is carried out, Argentina would become just the sixth country to have its embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, and the third Latin American nation to do so.

Currently, only the US, Kosovo, Honduras, Guatemala and Papua New Guinea have embassies in Jerusalem.

Paraguay moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 but reversed its decision a few months later.

Milei’s announcement has been condemned by Palestinian leaders in Argentina. “It would be a disruption of Argentina’s political tradition regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, given that it has always been a country that respects international rules and has supported the creation of an independent Palestinian state whose capital would be in East Jerusalem,” Rafael Araya Masry, president of the Palestinian Confederation of Latin America and the Caribbean, told Arab News.

“Argentina will violate international law if such a measure is taken, endorsing practices explicitly at odds with the letter and spirit of the resolutions of the UN and its Security Council, which prohibit and condemn the change of status of Jerusalem and reject any geographic and demographic modification in the city.”

Fernando Isas, an Argentinian-born son of Palestinian refugees and a long-time activist for the Palestinian cause, told Arab News that Milei’s decision is “worrisome not only for the whole diaspora but also for all Argentinians, given that it represents a geopolitical shift and alignment with the Zionist state and the US.”

The decision “endangers Argentina’s commitment to international law, and to the inalienable rights of all peoples to independence and self-determination,” Isas added.

Mariela Cuadro, an expert in the Middle East and the Global South, told Arab News that Milei’s plan “is related to the larger trend of the international right wing that we’ve been witnessing over the past few years.”

It is a break from the human rights policies historically advocated by Argentina, at a time when Israel is being taken to the International Court of Justice, said Cuadro, who is a researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council at the National University of San Martin, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

Milei’s decision may also provoke reactions from some of Argentina’s business partners in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Years ago in Brazil, when then-President Jair Bolsonaro also announced his plan to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, important economic players in the country put pressure on him, fearing consequences for trade. The plan was not carried out.

Walid Alkaddour, secretary-general of the Argentine-Arab Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News that he does not believe Milei’s plan will materialize.

“Those declarations are the product of ignorance,” Alkaddour said. “If that project becomes reality, it will be one of the major geopolitical mistakes in Argentina’s history. But I don’t believe it will happen. It’s all for the media effect.”

Riyad Al-Halabi, charge d’affaires of the Palestinian Embassy in Buenos Aires, told Arab News that he views Milei’s declaration “with great concern” and “disappointment” as “it contradicts international law and will have a negative impact.”

Al-Halabi added: “Jerusalem’s status must be defined through negotiations between both parties for the establishment of two states.”

At a time when Palestinians are suffering “a brutal process of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and Israel is facing a case at the ICJ, we hope that Argentina will continue to be on the side of respect for human rights,” he said.

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