Embassy of 'Palestine' established in Brazil

PA erects its first embassy in the Americas, raising the security concerns of locals over the 'sovereign Hamas area.'

Shoshana Miskin ,

Pro-Palestinian activist (illustration)
Pro-Palestinian activist (illustration)

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has established a new embassy in Brasilia, a first of its kind in first in the Americas.

PA ambassador Ibrahim Alzeben led the opening event on Monday, and flag-raising ceremony on Tuesday. The events were attended by left-wing Brazilian government officials, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, representatives of Arab countries and members of the local Arab community

The 17,000-square-feet plot of land which stands adjacent to major Brazilian governmental buildings, including the Planalto Palace, Congress, Supreme Court and ministries, was donated by the Brazilian government during former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's period in office

The new embassy has been widely criticized due to security concerns. According to JTA, an unnamed military source told Brazil’s Veja magazine in an article published last year that “Diplomats and their vehicles cannot be checked. The embassy is a sovereign Hamas area now, the site is strategic. Terrorists could access the whole governmental structure in a half an hour.”

Indeed, the structure is considered large in comparison to other diplomatic missions. Topped with a golden dome, the building was erected to mimic the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. PA President Mahmoud Abbas laid the cornerstone for the building in 2011.

Relations between Brazil and the Palestinians started in 1975, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) received authorization to appoint representatives in Brasilia. In 1993, Brazil authorized the opening of the Palestinian Special Delegation in Brasilia, whose status was raised to embassy in 1998. In 2004, a representative office of Brazil in Ramallah was opened. After Brazil recognized the state of "Palestine" in December 2010, the Special Delegation became the "Embassy of Palestine."

Meanwhile, Israel has not had an ambassador in Brazil since December after Brazil rejected Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s nominee to fill the vacant Israeli envoy position. The reason given was that Netanyahu’s nomination, Dani Dayan, was a former Yesha Council leader and a resident of Judea and Samaria.