Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's president-elect, on October 28, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/RICARDO MORAES/POOL)
The question is not whether Brazil will move its embassy to Jerusalem, but when, Eduardo Bolsonaro – the son of Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro – said in Washington on Tuesday.
According to the Brazilian daily O Globo, the younger Bolsonaro made this comment during a meeting in the White House with US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Eduardo Bolsonaro, 34, is a second-term Brazilian congressman who was re-elected in October.
“We don’t know the date for the relocation or when it will happen, but we have an intention to [set one],” he told Brazilian media when leaving the meeting, wearing a hat bearing the message “Trump 2020.”
Within days of his election as president in October, Jair Bolsonaro said that he intended to transfer the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, as he promised in his campaign. So far Guatemala is the only country that followed the US move in May. Paraguay also did so, but has since moved it back to Tel Aviv.
Jair Bolsonaro is a populist, ultra-conservative, Evangelical Christian whose victory represented a stunning shift in the direction of Brazil which has been ruled for the last 15 years by the far Left Workers Party. His election also held out the likelihood of a tectonic shift in the country’s relationship with Israel. Brazil has for years taken a very tough and critical line towards the Jewish state.
The president-elect’s intention to move the embassy caused a backlash in the Arab and Muslim world, with threats from some Muslim countries – the largest market for Brazilian meat products – that they would look elsewhere for meat if Brazil moved its embassy. Bolsonaro said that if these countries went through with their boycott threats, Brazilian companies would simply be forced to adapt to the new reality accordingly.
The younger Bolsonaro played down Egypt’s cancellation of a visit there earlier this month by Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira , which was widely interpreted as a sign of Cairo’s displeasure with the vow to relocate the embassy. Ferreira was scheduled to fly to Cairo from November 8-11, and meet President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. The official said the cancellation was due to scheduling problems.
Bolsonaro stressed again on Tuesday that the visit was postponed – not cancelled – until the new foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, takes office after his father is inaugurated as president on January 1.
Netanyahu intends to attend the inauguration. The prime minister congratulated Bolsonaro following his embassy announcement, saying “this is a historic, just and moving step.”JTA contributed to this report.
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