Palestinian source: Arab ministers to visit Brazil to prevent embassy move
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Palestinian source: Arab ministers to visit Brazil to prevent embassy move

Delegation plans to meet Brazil’s new leader Jair Bolsonsaro in January following his inauguration

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Jair Bolsonaro, then a 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)
Jair Bolsonaro, then a 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)

An Arab ministerial delegation plans to travel to Brazil in January to convince the incoming Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, not to relocate his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an official Palestinian source said on Thursday.

Bolsonaro announced in November that he intends to relocate the Brazilian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter on November 1. “Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that.”

However, less than a week after the Twitter announcement, Bolsonaro appeared to backtrack, telling reporters in Brasilia the matter “hasn’t yet been decided.”

In late November, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president-elect’s son, said the embassy would be relocated, but said a time-frame for the move had not been set.

“An Arab ministerial delegation intends to travel to Brazil in January to meet the new president” and convince him not to move its embassy in Israel, the official Palestinian source told The Times of Israel.

Bolsonaro, 63, is slated to enter his new office on January 1. A number of world leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend his inauguration early next week.

This picture taken on September 11, 2018, shows a general view of a meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers at the organization’s headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

Netanyahu is expected to meet senior officials in the Brazilian government during his six-day tour in the Latin American country.

Bolsonaro has also said he opposes the existence of the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Earlier this month, the Arab League convened a meeting to discuss Brazil’s possible relocation of its embassy in Israel.

In a statement following the meeting, the Arab League called on “Bolsonaro to refrain from taking any positions that shall prejudice the legal status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

In December 2017, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, angering the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership. The US embassy was relocated to Jerusalem in May 2018.

Shortly after Trump’s announcement, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared the Palestinians will no longer work with an American-dominated peace process and called for the establishment of a multilateral mechanism for it.

In the past year, the Palestinians have also cut off their ties with the American administration save those related to security, Azzam al-Ahmad, a top Fatah and PLO official, said in an interview at his Ramallah office in early December.

The Israeli government considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital and has encouraged countries to relocate their embassies to there. Meanwhile, the Palestinians seek East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinian officials say Brazil and the Palestinians have historically maintained solid relations.

Brazil recognized the State of Palestine in 2010.

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