Brazil’s Bolsonaro wants Israel embassy moved to Jerusalem

Far-right president-elect vows to fulfill his promise in an interview with Israeli newspaper ‘Israel Hayom’.

Brazil''s new president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, waves to supporters as he watches airplanes performing near his condominium at Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro
Brazil would become the second major country after the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem [Reuters]

Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has told an Israeli newspaper he intends to defy the Palestinians and most of the world by moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Asked in an interview with Israel Hayom published on Thursday if he would move Brazil’s embassy, as he had indicated during his campaign, Bolsonaro said Israel should decide where its capital is located.

“When I was asked during the campaign if I’d do it when I became president, I said ‘yes, the one who decides on the capital of Israel is you, not other nations’,” he told the paper, which is a firm backer of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Is Brazil’s democracy under threat?

Brazil would become the second major country after the United States to do so.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its “united” capital, and its annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 effectively put the entire city under de-facto Israeli control.

The Palestinians, however, see occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognise Israel’s jurisdiction and ownership of the city.

The status of Jerusalem

Palestinians say that moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict – the status of Jerusalem – and undermine the US’ status as an honest mediator.

In December, President Donald Trump reversed long-standing US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to boycott his administration.

The embassy was officially transferred on May 14, with Guatemala and Paraguay following suit, though the latter announced last month it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.

Bolsonaro, 63, who won a runoff election on Sunday, has outraged many with his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.

Following his victory, Netanyahu told Bolsonaro he was certain his election “will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and the tightening of links between Brazil and Israel.”

An official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP the Israeli prime minister was “very likely” to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremony in January.

Source: AFP