President of Argentina to visit Israel next month

Milei has pledged to move the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

By Etgar Lefkovits, TPS

Argentine President Javier Milei will visit Israel in February, becoming the first Latin American leader to come to the Jewish state since the war against Hamas in Gaza began.

The solidarity trip, part of one of his first tours abroad since taking office in December, signals a major shift in Argentine policy towards the United States and Israel after decades of pro-Arab support.

A very public philo-semite who studies with a rabbi, Milei has pledged to move the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

During his visit, which is scheduled for February 5-9, Milei is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall. His office is also considering a tour of border-area kibbutzim attacked by Hamas during the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre and are planning a meeting with Argentinians living in Israel who were among those targeted in the attack.

Netanyahu had invited Milei to Jerusalem in a congratulatory phone call last month and called him a “true friend” of Israel.

An iconoclast and political outsider, Milei was elected in November amid a burgeoning economic crisis and inflation in Argentina that has topped 140%. A week after his election victory, he visited the U.S. for government meetings and stopped at the grave in New York of the late Lubavitcher Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in his third such visit last year.

Milei has said that he would work to have Argentina designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“I want to emphasize our complete solidarity with the people of Israel following the terrorist acts committed by the terrorist organization Hamas,” Milei told then-Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in a meeting in Buenos Aires last month along with relatives of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. “I support Israel’s full right to defend itself against those terrorist attacks.”

His staunch support for Israel both ditches decades of unequivocal backing for Arab countries in the predominantly Catholic Latin American nation under both left- and right-wing governments and contrasts with neighboring Brazil, whose leftist leader, President Lula da Silva, has been highly critical of Israel’s war in Gaza.

After he visits Israel, Milei will travel to the Vatican for a meeting with the pope and to attend the beatification ceremony for a nun.