Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro tweeted that he intends to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a part of fulfilling his election campaign promises.
Brazil will become the third country after the United States and Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Associated Press reported. In a tweet published on Thursday, Bolsonaro said: “Israel is a sovereign state, and we shall duly respect that.”
The president-elect also said at a Thursday news conference in Rio de Janeiro that he would like to avoid problems with the Arab world following his decision. “Brazil is the nation where everyone peacefully co-exists, and we do not want to have problems with anyone. We do not want to kick up dust that would worsen our relations with the whole world … [The embassy relocation] is not a life or death issue. We treat both Israel and the Arab world with respect.”
This is the first time since his election that Bolsonaro has announced his plan to move the embassy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a warm welcome for this plan.
“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!” Netanyahu said in an official statement. Earlier, the Israeli PM congratulated the Brazilian president-elect on his victory and invited him to visit Israel.
Rubens Barbosa, former Brazilian Ambassador to the US, has warned that such a move could hurt Brazil’s exports to the Middle East. “Brazil would be throwing away $6 billion per year in poultry sales to Arab countries,” he said, as cited by Associated Press.
Earlier this year the US President Donald Trump ordered the US embassy moved to Jerusalem, and Guatemala followed suit. Among other countries, Paraguay briefly moved its embassy to Jerusalem as well, only to move it back to Tel Aviv after the election of Mario Abdo Benitez as the president in August.
East Jerusalem remains a disputed territory between Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, to be the capital of their state. Israel claims all of the city, including the eastern sector, calling it home to Jerusalem’s most important religious sites and Israel’s eternal capital.