Brazil joins United States, to move embassy to Jerusalem

Jeannie Matthews
November 3, 2018

Brazil's President-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, confirmed Thursday that he intends to move his country's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The move will make Brazil the most prominent country after the United States to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital, after Donald Trump moved the US embassy earlier this year. The announcement was soon welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement calling the move "exciting".

As a judge he was at the centre of the sprawling "Car Wash" investigation, one of the largest corruption probes in history.

Tensions have been running high in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip since last December, when US President Donald Trump chose to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital" and relocate Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city. "Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that", he wrote in a Facebook post.

The United States officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14.

Paraguay also briefly shifted its embassy to Jerusalem but moved it back to Tel Aviv following the election of its new president, Mario Abdo Benitez.

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Trump moved the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem earlier this year, a controversial decision that showed the world the US believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital despite Palestine also claiming the ancient city as its capital.

The Palestinians cut off ties with the Trump administration after the decision was first announced in December 2017, saying the government's pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between themselves and Israel.

The US embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated in May.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided" capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war - as the capital of a future state. Some Brazilians have raised concerns about the idea, saying it would hurt Brazil's relations with Muslim nations.

Rubens Barbosa, a former Brazilian ambassador to Washington, believes that Bolsonaro will backtrack on his most radical positions. The move will make his giant Latin American country the third after the United States and Guatemala made the controversial switch.

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