Iran slams Brazil plan to move embassy, but says ties to ‘continue’
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Iran slams Brazil plan to move embassy, but says ties to ‘continue’

Tehran warns decision ‘will not help with peace, stability, security’ after Netanyahu says Bolsonaro told him controversial step is a matter of ‘when, not if’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) is welcomed by Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro at the Copacabana fort in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 28, 2018.  (Leo Correa/Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) is welcomed by Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro at the Copacabana fort in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 28, 2018. (Leo Correa/Pool/AFP)

Iran has denounced Monday plans by Brazil’s newly elected president to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said that such a move “will not help with peace, stability, security and retrieval of the Palestinian people’s rights.” He added, however, that “relations with Brazil will eventually be continued.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visiting Brazil, said Sunday that Brazil’s incoming president had told him it was only a matter of time until Brazil moved its embassy to Jerusalem. “It’s not a question of if, just a question of when,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu had announced his trip to Brazil following a November 1 tweet from Jair Bolsonaro indicating he intends to move the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of US President Donald Trump. Bolsonaro later backtracked by saying “it hasn’t been decided yet.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro give a press conf(Photo by Leo CORREA / POOL / AFP)

Jerusalem’s fate is one of the most divisive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nearly all countries maintain embassies in Tel Aviv, and the US decision to move its embassy earlier this sparked visceral opposition from the Palestinians.

An embassy move could put at risk lucrative Brazilian poultry and halal meat exports to Arab countries, which fiercely oppose any unilateral moves seen as cementing Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and most countries in the world insist Jerusalem’s status can only be resolved through negotiations and as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Nearly 20 percent of Brazil’s $5 billion beef exports go to 17 Arab countries. Brazil-Israel trade currently amounts to $1.2 billion.

Demonstrators light flares and hold Palestinians flags as they protest against clashes in Gaza and the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 15, 2018. (AP/Andre Penner)

Bolsonaro’s ascent to the presidency represents a dramatic, rightward shift in Brazil’s politics.

For decades, the country has been under center-left and center-right rule and resolutely sought to carve out its foreign policy independent of the United States.

The leftist Workers Party, which had dominated Brazilian politics for 13 years before Bolsonaro’s election, often showed support for Palestinian statehood. But Bolsonaro and Netanyahu have developed an increasingly warm relationship with similar views on security issues.

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