Brazil’s Bolsonaro continues to consider embassy move to Jerusalem on Israel visit

Brazil’s Bolsonaro continues to consider embassy move to Jerusalem on Israel visit

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives in Israel today for an official visit, just days ahead of a national election. His

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Photo: Reuters

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives in Israel today for an official visit, just days ahead of a national election. His visit comes as Brazil considers moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would follow similarly controversial moves by the US and Guatemala, which were strongly opposed by Palestinians and Arab countries, as it undermines the two-state solution.

The decision requires a balancing act, as Brazil is seeking to boost ties with Israel for defence sales, while also protecting its lucrative agricultural exports to Arab nations. The embassy move has been expected since January, when Bolsonaro reportedly confirmed to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that it was a matter of when, not if the move would occur. It would provide Netanyahu with another diplomatic victory after the US recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights last week.

However, Bolsonaro’s administration remains divided on the move—Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo has said in recent weeks that Brasilia is “still studying the move.” The topic is expected to dominate discussions today but is not expected to be announced. While the move would please Bolsonaro’s evangelical voter base and boost ties with an ally of growing importance, Brazil is likely to weight the political and economic costs of recognition from Arab trade partners. However, inaction on the issue is likely to undermine growing relations with Israel and avoid giving Netanyahu a boost on another controversial issue ahead of elections.

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