Seconds after exiting the plane and stepping on Israeli ground, Argentina's President Javier Milei declared on Tuesday that he would move his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Milei, Argentina’s newly-elected and highly controversial president, was welcomed on his first official visit to Israel since his inauguration last December by Foreign Minister Israel Katz.
"You are a person of values who is committed only to the truth, no wonder that you chose to immediately come to Israel to support us in the just struggle for the defense of the Jewish people against the murderers of Hamas," Katz told Milei as he embraced him on the tarmac.
"Welcome to Israel Mr. President - Viva La Libertad Carajo!," Katz said, using the Argentinian's famous catchphrase meaning "Long live freedom, dammit!"
Milei is expected to meet Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, visit the communities near the Gaza border that were destroyed during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, and meet with hostage families, as well as visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
Numerous Argentinian citizens were among the hostages taken into the Gaza Strip.
Several of them were released during the truce deal in November, but brothers Eitan and Yair Horn, who were kidnapped from Nir Oz, are still being held captive by terrorists in Gaza.
Milei and Israeli leaders are expected to discuss bilateral relations, regional dynamics, and potential areas of collaboration.
During the election campaign, Milei had said he intended to move the nation's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In addition, the firebrand economist has expressed a deep interest in Judaism in recent years and after his election visited the New York tomb of famous Rabbi Schneerson, believed to have been the Messiah by some of his followers.
During a Hanukkah celebration in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, Milei said that heavenly forces support Israel “at this time,” referring to the ongoing war between Israel and the terror organization Hamas.
“We know that the forces of heaven will support Argentina and above all will support Israel at this time. Thank you very much and long live freedom, dammit,” Milei said at the event in December.
“The main lesson is that light prevails over darkness,” Milei added, referring to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which is also called the “Festival of Lights.”
Milei has attracted serious controversy for his radical libertarian views, such as his promise to severely cut down the number of ministries and his far-reaching plans to privatize and deregulate Argentina’s economy.
Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in South America, numbering some 200,000 Jews. While Jewish life has generally thrived in Argentina for many decades, about 85 people were murdered in a terror attack in 1994 at the Jewish Community Center (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires.
The Iranian regime and its terror proxy Hezbollah were believed to be behind the terror attack in Argentina, one of the worst post-Holocaust terror attacks against Jews before the Hamas Oct. 7 massacre.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.