Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister: I Hope Brazilian Embassy Will Move to Jerusalem in January

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File Photo: Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, March 2018.
File Photo: Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, March 2018.Credit: Meged Gozani

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Sunday that she "hoped the Brazilian embassy will move to Jerusalem in January," when Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro will be inaugurated.

Hotovely, who made the remarks in the Foreign Ministry's yearly ambassadors' conference, added that it's important to continue waging the campaign to get more foreign embassies to move to Jerusalem.

"In May, we will mark a year since the U.S. embassy's move to the capital, and we have a historical window of opportunity until then to bring as many foreign embassies to Jerusalem as we can," she said, adding: "Our message to the world is simple – we have had only one capital for the past 3,000 years, and that's Jerusalem."

>> Brazil – and its Jewish community – battle for the soul of Latin America’s biggest democracy

Several days after winning the elections, Bolsonaro said 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.

Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the vote in late October. 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.

Israel welcomed the victory, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling Bolsonaro to congratulate him and saying 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."

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

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.

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!"

An Israeli official said that it is "highly probable" Netanyahu will attend Bolsonaro's inauguration January 1. 

In November, Bolsonaro's son met with U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to discuss Brazil’s intention to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In May, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Only two other countries, Guatemala and Paraguay, have moved their embassies to Jerusalem, with Paraguay retracting its decision, leading to a diplomatic crisis with Israel. The Czech Republic moved its cultural center to Jerusalem in November, and other countries have said they would follow suit.   

Meanwhile, a Brazilian delegation is in Israel to learn about anti-terrorism. Rio de Janeiro Governor-elect Wilson Witzel met with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a meeting Erdan called "excellent."

Erdan tweeted that Israel is ready to help Brazil & Rio meet their security challenges in any way. With the election of Pres. @jairbolsonaro, Gov. Witzel, & other friends of Israel, its time to build a new alliance between our nations."

Both Witzel and Erdan have pushed to ease restrictions on gun laws.

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