Israel’s new proposed ambassador to Brazil also controversial

Marcy Oster

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the Israeli parliament, June 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the Israeli parliament, June 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Less than one year after Brazil’s unprecedented rejection of former settler leader Dani Dayan as Israeli ambassador, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering sending another polemic candidate to represent the Jewish state in Latin America’s largest nation.

Yossi Sheli has no diplomatic experience or state advocacy credentials, reported Ynet news on Wednesday. Therefore, Netanyahu’s new choice could give rise to yet another political storm between Jerusalem and Brasilia, where the Israeli ambassador slot has been vacant since December when Israeli-Druse envoy Reda Mansour left the post.

Netanyahu is considering nominating Sheli and has already informed the Foreign Ministry of his intention to appoint an ambassador. Moreover, the Prime Minister’s Office has already approached the Committee for Appointments in the Foreign Service seeking its approval for Sheli’s nomination, according to Ynet.

Sheli is a former businessman who was previously barred from public office for three years after admitting that he had not declared his political affiliation despite being a Likud member at a time when he acted as chairman of the Israel Postal Company’s board of directors and director general of the Beersheba Municipality, the Israeli news service reported.

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He came under the scrutiny of Jerusalem’s local attorney’s office in 2008, which issued an indictment alleging that he had presented false affidavits to the Public Services Authority. He was found guilty in June of perjury and fraud.

In 2012, Sheli signed a plea bargain in which he admitted to the charge of breach of statutory duty without permission. According to the deal, he was forbidden from serving the state until June 2015, Ynet reported.

A seasoned diplomat with 30 years of experience, Dani Goren is expected to assume the Israeli consulate general in Sao Paulo as his colleague  prepares to end his assignment in Brazil’s largest city, which is home to the nearly half of the country’s 120,000-strong Jewish community.

Fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish, Goren served as ambassador to Uruguay and held other diplomatic positions in Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. Born in Jerusalem, he served as second secretary at the Israeli embassy in Brasilia from 1987-1988. His name was approved in February by the Brazilian government.

The embassy in Brasilia and the Sao Paulo consulate have been Israel’s only diplomatic institutions in Brazil since the Rio de Janeiro consulate was closed years ago. Israel has honorary consuls in Rio and Belo Horizonte.

RELATED: After row over settler envoy, Brazil approves Israeli consul

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