Brazil ‘still studying’ embassy move to Jerusalem
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Brazil ‘still studying’ embassy move to Jerusalem

Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo says issue is ‘very important’ but any move must be done in a way that is a positive ‘contribution to peace and stability’

Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo speaks at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, March 18, 2019. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo speaks at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, March 18, 2019. (Susan Walsh/AP)

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil is “still studying” the relocation of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Brazil’s top diplomat said Wednesday, days before President Jair Bolsonaro is due to visit the country.

After taking power in January, Bolsonaro reiterated a pledge to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead in moving the embassy from Tel Aviv.

But his far-right government has since rowed back in response to fears the shift could endanger Brazil’s valuable meat exports to Arab markets.

Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo’s latest remarks, however, suggest the controversial proposal is still on the table.

“The issue of Jerusalem is very important, it is part of the essence of what this new relationship with Israel may mean, we are still studying the way that [decision]will be taken,” Araujo told reporters.

The shift must be in line with “other policies in the region to make it clear that, if it were the case, it would be a positive movement, as part of Brazil’s contribution to peace and stability,” he added.

Bolsonaro, who has been in the United States this week for talks with Trump before going to Chile, is due to visit Israel from March 31 to April 2 as he seeks to strengthen ties with conservative governments around the world.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended Bolsonaro’s January 1 inauguration in Brazil.

The decision to move the embassy is highly sensitive because Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of its future state.

Virtually all countries agree that Jerusalem’s status can only be defined through wider Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

So far, only the United States and Guatemala have broken with that consensus by opening embassies in Jerusalem. Paraguay backtracked on a decision last year to move its embassy. Israel and the US have spoken with Honduras about its embassy going to Jerusalem.

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