Jun 16, 2021


Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has announced that in a package of initial moves related to Israel and the Middle East, he plans to shut down the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.

“Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here,” Bolsonaro said recently. “You do not negotiate with terrorists.”

Bolsonaro, who won a presidential election run-off on Sunday – with 55.1% of the votes according to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal – has already given strong indication that he will move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In addition, Bolsonaro has stated that his first overseas trip will be to Israel. The apparent change of direction in Brazil’s foreign policy was warmly welcomed by Christians United for Israel.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Bolsonaro on his electoral victory and invited him to Israel. Media reports also suggest that Netanyahu will attend the Brazilian president’s inauguration – representing the first time an Israeli prime minister will visit the country.

Netanyahu has come under fire from left-wing circles for his warm embrace of Bolsonaro, whom many condemn for his comments on women, the gay community and minorities. However, for decades Brazil has been highly critical of Israel and relations cool, to say the least, particularly under the country’s former – now jailed – leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known popularly as Lula.