Muslim states pan Brazil for pledging Jerusalem embassy move

Muslim states pan Brazil for pledging Jerusalem embassy move

Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief says president-elect Bolsonaro’s plan is a ‘flagrant violation of international law’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of the far-right Social Liberal Party, speaks during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of the far-right Social Liberal Party, speaks during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The world’s largest organization of Muslim states this week condemned the plan of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s incoming president, to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Brazilian President-elect plan to move his country’s embassy to the occupied city of Al-Quds [Jerusalem], inviting Brazil to reconsider this legally invalid position, being in flagrant violation of international law and relevant UN resolutions,” the Cairo-based organization said in a statement.

OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen urged Brasilia to “honor its legal and political commitments under international law and UN resolutions, inviting it to take positions that mobilize greater support for peace based on the two-state vision,” the statement said.

With 57 member states on four continents, the OIC is the second-largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations.

Only the US and Guatemala currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, while other countries have theirs in Tel Aviv.

In September, the organization’s executive committee, meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, reiterated “its determination to take political, economic and other measures against countries which recognize Al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel or relocate their embassies thereto.”

In a final communique, the executive committee called on all OIC member states to halt the import of cardamom from Guatemala and “and not to conduct high level visits to this country or to organize joint cultural, sportive or artistic events” until its embassy is removed from Jerusalem.

Guatemala is one of the world’s leading exporters of cardamon, which is considered among the most-expensive spices in the world.

On Friday, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, had also denounced the Bolsonaro’s announcement.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on February 24, 2015. (WAFA)

“These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region,” she told AFP.

The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, sparking fury among Palestinians, who consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state. Guatemala and Paraguay followed suit, though the latter has since announced to relocate its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Australia and the Czech Republic have said they are considering moving their respective embassies to Tel Aviv.

“It is very unfortunate that Brazil has joined this negative alliance against international law,” Ashrawi said.

Jair Bolsonaro, presidential candidate with the Social Liberal Party, waves after voting in the presidential runoff election in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 28, 2018 (AP Photo/Silvia izquierdo)

On Thursday Bolsonaro tweeted that “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,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as “historic.”

Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. It sees the entire city as its capital.

For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.

The embassy move squarely aligns Bolsonaro with US President Donald Trump, and bolsters his image as a “Tropical Trump.” In December, Trump reversed longstanding policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, prompting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to boycott his administration.

View of the US embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, May 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Bolsonaro, 63, who won a runoff election on Sunday, has outraged many with his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.

Following his victory, Netanyahu told Bolsonaro he was certain his election “will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and the tightening of links between Brazil and Israel.”

An official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP that the premier was “very likely” to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremony in January.

Bolsonaro’s first foreign trips as president will be to Israel, the United States and Chile — countries that “share our worldview,” according to the president-elect’s intended chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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