Argentine President Javier Milei arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Tuesday afternoon (local time) as part of a three-day visit to the country.
The trip marks Milei’s first official state visit as Argentina’s head of state following his inauguration in December and following his trip to Davos, Switzerland, in January, in which he did not engage in any official events with Swiss leaders.
Milei’s travel to Israel also marks the first time in 40 years that an Argentine president visits a country in a state of war. Following his visit to Israel, Milei will continue his three-country tour with stops in Italy and the Vatican.
President of Argentina Javier Milei landed in Israel and announced the transfer of the Argentine embassy to Jerusalem. 🇦🇷 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/FJMn9KJlpR— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) February 6, 2024
Upon arriving, Milei explained that the purpose of his visit was to fulfill the promise he made to make Israel his first international destination as president.
“First, to fulfill my promise to make my first diplomatic trip to Israel. And secondly, to express my support to Israel against the attacks of the terrorist group Hamas, to make explicit my solidarity with Israel and to vindicate its legitimate right to defense,” Milei said. “In addition to continuing to deepen our commercial ties, especially those of such affection.”
Milei also confirmed Argentina’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Milei’s February 6-9 agenda in Israel will include official meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, a visit to the Western Wall, and an encounter with the families of the hostages held captive by Hamas in the aftermath of the October 7 terrorist attack.
He is accompanied in Israel by a small delegation composed of Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, his sister and General Secretary of the Presidency Karina Milei, and Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish, the designated new Argentine ambassador to Israel.
“On the way to Rome. Final destination Jerusalem. Long live liberty, damn it!” Milei wrote on his Instagram account on Monday afternoon moments before the commercial airplane took off.
Bringing a smaller delegation, the Argentine news outlet Infobae reported, allows for the visit to comply with the strictest security conditions established by Argentina’s military officials and AFI intelligence agency in cooperation with Israel’s Shin Bet, Mossad, and the Israel Defense Force (IDF).
Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni explained the basic details of Milei’s flight to Israel during his Monday morning press conference.
“Today, at 1:45 p.m., the President leaves from Ezeiza [airport] to Israel with a stopover in Rome,” Adorni said. “The flight will arrive, always on local time, at 6:40 a.m. in Rome, and at 10:10 a.m. he will take another flight to Tel Aviv, where he will be landing at 2:30 p.m.”
According to local Argentine media, Milei will kick off his Israel tour on Tuesday afternoon (local time) by visiting the Western Wall, where he will be received by rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. A book signing, prayer and study session, and the lighting of a candle in commemoration of the victims of the October 7 terrorist attack are slated to take place.
Tuesday’s agenda will conclude with a visit to the Kotel Tunnels, followed by a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
On Wednesday, February 7, the Argentine president is slated to hold a private meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, followed by the planting of a tree and a visit to Jerusalem. An encounter with businessmen and Israel’s chief rabbis is also slated to take place on that day.
Milei will conclude his agenda on Thursday with a blessing ceremony led by Rabbi Osher Vai and a visit to the Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the most affected by Hamas’ October 7 attack. The Argentine president will also hold a meeting with the families of the hostages held captive by Hamas. Milei will bid farewell to Israel at the Western Wall.
Milei, a libertarian economist, has been a staunch supporter of Israel throughout his career and has repeatedly expressed his intention to convert to Judaism. The Argentine president has fiercely condemned Hamas for its unprecedented terrorist attack in October and his administration is reportedly preparing a decree to declare Hamas as a terrorist group under Argentine law.
In an interview given to the Wall Street Journal in January, Milei reaffirmed his possible conversion to Judaism, explaining that the practice of observing Shabbat would presently affect his labor as a president.
“In that sense, it’s something deeper for the long-term,” he stated.
Milei is scheduled to depart from Israel on February 9 and continue his international tour in Italy, where he will be joined by other members of the Argentine government in Rome to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Milei will then head to the Vatican to participate in the canonization of Argentina’s first Saint, Blessed Maria Antonia of St. Joseph, who is commonly referred to as “Mama Antula.” A meeting between Milei and Pope Francis is scheduled to occur on the sidelines of the canonization.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.