Brazilian president ‘loves Israel’, announces new trade mission in Jerusalem

Brazil's Bolsonaro to walk diplomatic tightrope in Israel

Brazil's Bolsonaro to walk diplomatic tightrope in Israel

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday condemned "in the strongest terms" Brazil's decision to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, and said that it will recall the Palestinian ambassador to Brazil for consultations to study the PA's response to the move.

During a press conference late Sunday, Bolsonaro said that Brazil would open a trade and innovation office in Jerusalem but stopped short of announcing a formal embassy move.

Bolsonaro had suggested in January he would follow suit.

Benjamin Netanyahu's red-carpet welcome for Bolsonaro comes days ahead of Israeli elections on April 9.

But Brazilian senior officials later backed away from the idea, for fear of damaging trade ties with Arab countries. Even if the U.S. and Brazil maintain that they are not interferring in Israel's upcoming national election, the timing of Netanyahu being invited to the White House last week and Bolsonaro landing in Tel Aviv today can not be ignored. Obrigado for opening a diplomatic office in Jerusalem!

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Like most countries, Brazil has an embassy in Tel Aviv.

Bolsonaro offered no public comment on the embassy plans. "We are on the right path", he tweeted.

For the remainder of his four-day trip, Bolsonaro is set to visit Israeli security forces and pay his respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

"I love Israel", Bolsonaro said in Hebrew at a welcoming ceremony, with Netanyahu at his side, at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport. He later told reporters of his Christian devotion to the Holy Land and sense of cultural and ideological affinity to Israel. Palestinians seek to establish a state in the territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The PA Foreign Ministry said, on Sunday, that Brazil's decision was a "flagrant violation of worldwide legitimacy and its resolutions and a direct assault on our people and their rights". Netanyahu said he and Bolsonaro would sign "many agreements", including security deals, and that the Brazilian leader would visit Judaism's holy Western Wall, "in Jerusalem, our eternal capital". Bolsonaro's economic team and the country's powerful farm lobby have advised against relocating the embassy to Jerusalem. "My government is firmly made a decision to strengthen the partnership between Brazil and Israel", he added.

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