Brazil's Bolsonaro: I Intend to Move Brazil's Embassy to Jerusalem

Jair Bolsonaro says Israel is a sovereign country and that Brazil will respect its decision regarding its capital ■ Netanyahu: This is a historic and correct step

Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), gestures at a polling station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 28, 2018.
REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said late on Thursday that he intends to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv 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," Bolsonaro tweeted.

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Bolsonaro made similar statements in an interview to the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, published on Friday. "Israel is a sovereign country. If you decide on your capital, we will proceed accordingly," he said.

Bolsonaro added that Israel can count on Brazil's vote at the UN, and hinted that he would change the status of the Palestinian embassy in Brazil. "Palestine needs to be a country to have the right to an embassy," he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly took to Twitter to respond to Bolsonaro's announcement. "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!"

On Wednesday, an Israeli official said that it is "highly probable" Netanyahu will attend Bolsonaro's inauguration January 1. 

Israel welcomed the victory by far-right Bolsonaro in last week's presidential elections. Netanyahu called Bolsonaro to congratulate him on Monday and said he was confident that his victory "will lead to a great friendship between the two peoples and to the strengthening of ties between Brazil and Israel."

Netanyahu also told Bolsonaro: "We await your visit to Israel." A senior diplomatic source said that as far as Israel is concerned, "Brazil will now be colored in blue and white," referring to the colors of the Israeli flag.

Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the vote Sunday. His victory moved Brazil, the world's fourth-largest democracy, sharply to the right after four consecutive elections in which candidates from the left-leaning Workers' Party won.