Diplomacy

Brazil’s President-Elect Reaffirms Intent to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has reaffirmed a plan to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following in the path of the United States and Guatemala, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

“As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.

Bolsonaro, a controversial hardliner who has earned the nickname “Trump of the Tropics,” won Brazil’s presidential election last month with roughly 55 percent of the vote, ending a 15-year era of the far-left Workers Party.

In an interview Thursday, Bolsonaro repeated his pledge to relocate the embassy: “Israel is a sovereign state. If you decide on your capital city, we will act in accordance. When I was asked during the campaign if I’ll do it [relocate the embassy] when I was president, I said yes, and that you’re the ones who decide on the capital of Israel, not other people.”

Bolsonaro noted that Israel can now “count on having our vote in the UN,” adding, “I know that often the vote is almost symbolic, but it helps to define the position a country intends to take. Rest assured that you can depend on our vote in the UN on almost all the issues having to do with Israel.”

Netanyahu spoke to Bolsonaro earlier this week, congratulating him on his victory and inviting him to visit Israel. “I congratulate my friend Brazilian President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, for his intention to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein praised Bolsonaro as “a great friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Thank you very much Brazil!”

Economy Minister Eli Cohen from the centrist Kulanu Party also welcomed Bolsonaro’s election and said he expected increased economic cooperation with Brasilia under the ardently pro-Israel leader.

If Bolsonaro follows through on his pledge, Brazil would become the third country to have an embassy in Jerusalem, after the U.S. and Guatemala. Paraguay also relocated its embassy, only to move it back to Tel Aviv following the election of the country’s new President, Mario Abdo Benítez.

Newly-installed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently called for closer ties with Israel and said that he would consider moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem. Other countries have expressed a similar intent, including the Czech Republic.

[Photo: CGTN / YouTube ]