Brazil reiterates stance on embassy relocation

New administration in Brazil reiterates that it will relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, despite Arab pressure.

Elad Benari,

Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro
Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro

The new administration in Brazil has reiterated its position that despite mounting pressure from the Arab world, it will remain true to its word and relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel Hayom reported on Wednesday.

"We're going to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem," Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro, reportedly wrote on Tuesday to Jane Silva, president of a leading pro-Israel organization in Brazil.

According to Israel Hayom, Silva had approached Eduardo Bolsonaro in the wake of reports in the Brazilian press indicating that Egypt had called off the Brazilian foreign minister's upcoming visit to Cairo in protest of the planned embassy transfer.

In her letter to Bolsonaro, Silva wrote: "Jerusalem was always the capital of Israel. … There was a partition plan; the Arabs rejected it and launched wars against Israel and persecuted Israel. Israel has suffered, but it held its head high. Israel has seized every opportunity and established a nice home for the sole and legitimate owners of the land of Israel – the Jewish people."

"It's funny that there are over 50 Arab countries, none of which are willing to give a sliver of land to the Palestinians, while Israel is the only Jewish country in the world, smaller than [the state of] Sergipe in Brazil, and despite this they still want to divide Israel?" she wondered.

The report came after the president-elect appeared to backtrack somewhat on Tuesday from his plans to move his country's Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Last week, Bolsonaro announced on Twitter that he intended to uphold his campaign promise to move the embassy to Israel’s capital.

“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,” he wrote.

On Tuesday, however, he reeled in his plans, according to an AFP report, claiming "it hasn't yet been decided."

The politician’s comments came as he was responding to a question from reporters about Egypt postponing a scheduled visit from Brazil's foreign minister.

"From what I know, it's due to a calendar problem," Bolsonaro said, according to AFP.

"It would be premature for a country to take retaliatory measures against something that hasn't yet been decided," he added.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hailed Bolsonaro's plan to relocate his country’s embassy shortly after it was announced, saying, "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!"

Palestinian Arab officials, as expected, blasted the move. Senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Hanan Ashrawi condemned Bolsonaro's announcement, saying, "These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region.”

The Palestinian Authority envoy to Brazil, Ibrahim Alzeben, said earlier this week he would lobby the new government against the move.