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ARGENTINA | 05-02-2024 15:21

Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and kibbutz attacked by Hamas – Milei's agenda in Israel

President Javier Milei departed Buenos Aires on Monday for a week-long trip that will take in Israel and Italy.

President Javier Milei has already defined his agenda for his trip to Israel and departed Buenos Aires on Monday accompanied by a small group of officials.

The presidential delegation departed Monday afternoon and is expected in Israel the following day. It is his first official trip, aside from a whirlwind stop at the Davos economic forum in Switzerland last month where he delivered a fiery speech slamming socialism, feminism, and social justice.

The La Libertad Avanza leader will conclude this overseas jaunt on February 12 with an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican and facetime with his Italian counterpart and fellow right-winger Giorgia Meloni in Rome. 

While in Israel, Milei will meeting with President Isaac Hertzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Before leaving Buenos Aires, the president expressed his support and solidarity to Israel in the face of "the attacks of the terrorist group Hamas" and vowed to condemn their bloody October 7 assault on Israeli territory.

The visit will serve "to express my solidarity with Israel and defend its right to legitimate self-defence, and to continue deepening our ties," the president told reporters on Monday.

Milei has presented himself politically as an ally to Israel, and has said he is open to moving Argentina's Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

He will be accompanied on the trip by Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, as well as his closest aide and sister, Secretary General to the Presidency, Karina Milei, and Rabbi Axel Wahnish, Milei's choice to be the next ambassador to Israel.


Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

A 53-year-old economist and self-proclaimed "anarcho-capitalist," Milei was educated in Catholicism and became interested in Judaism in recent years, although without converting.

He says he studies the Torah, the book of Jewish scripture and right after his November election, he visited the tomb of a revered rabbi in New York, a popular spiritual pilgrimage destination for some Jews.

Milei is scheduled to visit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv while in Israel. He says he is eager to show his political support to the country after the attacks by Hamas. 

For that reason, he formally asked to visit Kbibutz Nir Oz, in the south, one of the areas attacked during the incursion by Hamas into Israeli territory. Milei will also meet relatives of the victims of those killed in the attack and the families of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas.

After arriving to David Ben Gurion Airport, in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Milei  is expected to travel to Jerusalem to visit the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, before meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

He is also scheduled to visit the Holocaust Museum and the Grove of Nations, a place where the presidents of the world usually plant a tree, as a gesture of friendship with the host nation.

 

Italian leg

In Rome, Milei's entourage will be joined by the Interior Minister Guillermo Francos, Human Capital Minister Sandra Pettovello, Cults (Worship) Secretary Francisco Sanchez, before heading to the Vatican.

Milei will attend the canonisation Mass of María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, otherwise known as 'Blessed María Antonia de San José' or more commonly 'Mama Antula,' at St. Peter's Basilica on February 11.

The following day, President Milei will be received in an audience by the Supreme Pontiff – a meeting that is sure to be watched closely. 

Milei is on record as describing Francis as an "imbecile" and "te representative of the evil one on Earth," in addition to accusing him of "seeking to expand communism" globally.

However, he has since watered down much of his more fiery rhetoric against some of his favoured campaign targets – including the pontiff, and major trade partners such as Brazil and China.

He and the pope appeared to reconcile – at least publicly – when Francis called to congratulate the libertarian president on his election.

At the end of January, Francis, 87, said he would receive Milei and assured that he had not been offended by his comments, which he said were par for the course on the campaign trail.

Milei is expected to repeat an invitation for Francis to visit Argentina. The 87-year-old pope has not been to his homeland since being named head of the Catholic Church in 2013.

Milei is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Meloni and Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday in Rome.

Just like with his trip to the Davos Forum, the head of state will fly on commercial flights and will not be using the presidential jet.

 

– TIMES/AFP/PERFIL/NA

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