Brazilian President Arrives in Israel Amid Confusion Over Jerusalem Embassy Relocation
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrived in Israel on Sunday for a two-day visit during which he is expected to announce whether he will fulfill a longstanding promise to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem. Bolsonaro initially was adamant about doing so but has been criticized by Arab countries, which have threatened to downgrade economic ties. Brazil is the largest global exporter of halal beef, which is produced in accordance with Islamic law. He has since seemingly backtracked, announcing prior to his departure that he was now considering opening a “business office” in what the Israeli government deems its united capital despite claims by the Palestinians to the city’s eastern portions. Brazil’s foreign minister recently said the government was “still studying” the embassy transfer plan. Meanwhile, Romania’s prime minister last week announced the intention to move her country’s embassy to the highly contested city, although the country’s president, who is head of state, opposes the initiative. Honduras also recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but stopped short of committing to moving its mission there. Earlier this month, Hungary became the first European Union member to open a trade department in Jerusalem, with both the Czech Republic and Slovenia expected to follow suit by inaugurating “cultural” missions in the city. Bolsonaro was slated to meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who in December visited Brazil. While there, Netanyahu told reporters that Brazil’s relocation of its embassy “was not a matter of if, but a matter of when.” Bolsonaro is not scheduled to travel to Ramallah or meet with Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank.