Argentina’s headline-grabbing new president has promised Israel that he will move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

“For me, it is a pleasure, an honor to be here,” Argentinian President Javier Milei said upon his arrival in Israel on Tuesday. “I am keeping my promise to have my first diplomatic visit to Israel. I’m here to convey my support of Israel against Hamas terrorists, my support for the people of Israel who have the right for self-defense.”

“Obviously, my plan is to move the embassy to western Jerusalem,” he announced. “So for me it’s a great pleasure to be here. Thank you.”

Milei arrived in Israel this week for a three-day trip, accompanied by Argentinian Foreign Minister Diana Mondino and his personal Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish. Milei does not practice Judaism but has talked about potential conversion, The Times of Israel reported. 

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Javier Milei Western Wall

Argentina’s President Javier Milei prays at the Western Wall, the last remaining vestige of the Second Temple which is considered the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on Feb. 6, 2024. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)

“I thank you for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and for your announcement now to relocate Argentina’s embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said of the decision. “Welcome to Israel, Mr. President.”

Katz declared Milei “a person of values who is committed only to the truth” and thanked him for his support “in the just struggle for the defense of the Jewish people against the murderers of Hamas.” 

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Javier Milei Israel Katz

Argentina’s President Javier Milei shakes hands with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz. (Yossi Pons, Israel Foreign Ministry Via Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Milei a “dear friend” and welcomed him following the announcement and intent to move the Argentinian embassy. 

Terrorist group Hamas said Tuesday that it “strongly condemns” Milei’s decision and viewed the move as “an infringement of the rights of our Palestinian people to their land, and a violation of the rules of international law, considering Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian land,” the Agence France Presse (AFP) reported. 

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Milei Western Wall

Argentina’s President Javier Milei cries with Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Feb. 6, 2024. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)

Most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, but some countries, such as the United States, have recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved their embassies in support of the claim. Former President Donald Trump made the move in 2018

This picture taken on January 24, 2020 from the Mount of the Olives shows an Israeli flag flying (foreground) with the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Tor seen in the background.  (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Milei’s visit included a stop at the Western Wall, where he tearfully embraced the wall, and met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, with plans to meet with Netanyahu and members of Israel’s war cabinet on Wednesday. 

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Herzog and Milei plan to visit Kibbutz Nir Oz, located near the border with the Gaza Strip and one of the areas most heavily hit during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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