Arab League warns Brazil against embassy relocation

Arab League tells Brazil’s President-elect that moving embassy to Jerusalem would be a setback for relations with Arab countries.

Elad Benari ,

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro

The Arab League has told Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro that moving his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would be a setback for relations with Arab countries, Reuters reported Monday, citing a letter sent by the Arab League to Bolsonaro.

The letter to Bolsonaro from the league’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and delivered to Brazil’s foreign ministry said the decision on where to locate an embassy was the sovereign decision of any country.

“However, the situation of Israel is not normal, seeing that it is a country that has been occupying Palestinian territories by force - among them East Jerusalem,” the letter said, according to Reuters.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be considered a violation of international law and the United National Security Council resolutions, Aboul Gheit said.

An Arab diplomat who asked not to be named told Reuters that ambassadors from Arab nations are expected to meet in Brasilia on Tuesday to discuss Bolsonaro’s plan to relocate the embassy

“The Arab world has much respect for Brazil and we want not just to maintain relations but improve and diversify them. But the intention of moving the embassy to Jerusalem could harm them,” the diplomat said.

After being elected, Bolsonaro announced via Twitter that he intended to uphold his campaign promise and move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem.

“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.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later hailed Bolsonaro's announcement. Palestinian Arab leaders, however, condemned the move.

Reuters published the contents of the letter hours after a television report in Israel said that Bolsonaro had told US National Security Adviser John Bolton that no final decision had yet been made on the relocation of Brazil’s embassy.

According to the report, Bolsonaro’s main concern is possible damage to Brazil's trade relations with Muslim countries if a decision is made to relocate the embassy.

Brazil is one of the world’s top halal meat exporters and that trade could run into trouble if Bolsonaro angers Arab nations by moving the embassy, noted Reuters. That could hurt exports to key Middle Eastern markets for Brazilian beef and poultry producers BRF SA and JBS SA.

Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, recently met with US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

Reshet Bet reported at the time that the son of the Brazilian President-elect stressed at the meeting that the Brazilian embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem.