Israel denounced Brazil on Thursday for recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations in protest over the IDF’s operation in the Gaza Strip, calling it an economic power but an irrelevant diplomatic power.
“This is an unfortunate demonstration of why Brazil, an economic and cultural giant, remains a diplomatic dwarf,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “The moral relativism behind this move makes Brazil an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions.”
A statement put out by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announcing the recall of its ambassador said Brazil considered the “escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine” as unacceptable.
“We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip.”
Foreign Ministry officials were bracing for other Latin American countries to follow suit, noting that Brazil often sets the tone in South America.
In 2010, once Brazil recognized a Palestinian state, a number of other South American countries did the same.
One diplomatic official explained Brazil’s move as a way to ingratiate itself with the Arab and non-aligned countries in an effort to forge alliances in international forums and increase its international diplomatic status. Ultimately, the official said, Brazil feels it will need these alliances to achieve its aim of gaining a seat on the UN Security Council.
The Foreign Ministry released a statement saying the decision “does not reflect the level of relations between the countries and ignores Israel’s right to defend itself.” Israel expected support from its friends in its struggle against Hamas, an organization recognized as a terror group by many countries around the world, the statement said.
Brazil was one of the 29 countries that voted in the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday to probe Israel’s actions in Gaza – 17 countries abstained, and only the US opposed. One Israeli official said Brazil’s representative to the council was especially “bad” when addressing the council.
In addition to Brazil, all the Latin American countries on the UNHRC – Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela – voted against Israel.
By comparison, four out of the 13 African countries on the Council – Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso and Gabon – abstained in the vote.
During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Bolivia cut ties with Israel, and Mauritania – the only Arab country besides Jordan and Egypt that had relations with Israel – recalled its envoy for consultations, a prelude to it later breaking off ties.