Brazil’s right-wing President-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, was warned in a letter on Monday that his plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would seriously harm relations with Arab countries. Arab diplomats are expected to meet in Brasilia to further discuss the intended embassy move, along with Bolsonaro’s plans to close the Palestinian mission in Brasilia.
Natanyahu praised the planned move: “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!” Bolsonaro is due to be sworn in on 1st January 2019, and Netanyahu reportedly hopes to attend the inauguration ceremony.
A diplomat from the Arab League stated: “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.”
Hanan Ashwari, member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s executive committee, condemned the plans, stating “these are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region.”
Currently, the United States and Guatemala are the only nations with embassies located in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv. The Organisation of Islamic Countries has called on member states to abstain from importing cardamom from Guatemala, and not to conduct high level visits to this country or to organize joint cultural, sportive or artistic events” until its embassy is removed from Jerusalem. The organization has announced that similar measures will be taken against countries which relocate their embassies to Jerusalem.
According to Reuters, the president-elect’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, said the embassy move was “not a question of if, but of when”, speaking after recently visiting Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner at the White House.
Brazil is among the largest exporters of halal meat to the arab world, and this move would threaten the trading relationship in the future. However, as Bolsonaro attempts to align himself with Trump and position the nation favourably with regard to the US, it is doubtful whether the potential economic interest at stake will weigh heavily enough against the embassy move.