RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, with only the date of the transfer to be decided, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said on Sunday during a visit to Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when’,” Netanyahu told members of Rio’s Jewish community, according to Brazil’s UOL news website.
The issue of the embassy has been hovering over Netanyahu’s visit to Brazil, the first-ever by an Israeli prime minister.
He arrived on Friday to hold talks with Brazil’s far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who is to be sworn-in in a ceremony in Brasilia on Tuesday, with Netanyahu among the foreign dignitaries attending.
Bolsonaro said in early November he intended to follow the lead of US President Donald Trump in moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But then he backtracked, saying “it hasn’t been decided yet.” Brazil’s important meat producers are worried that an embassy move could see threaten they’re $5 billion in exports to Arab countries.
Those countries and Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
But Israel asserts all of Jerusalem is its capital and is keen to see embassies move there to bolster that claim.
Most countries, however, back Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to settle Jerusalem’s status as part of a wider peace deal.
Trump broke with that consensus a year ago, and in May this year, the US embassy was established in Jerusalem.
UOL reported that Bolsonaro told Netanyahu in their Friday talks that he would follow suit.
However, neither man raised the issue when they spoke to journalists shortly after. Nor did they post anything on it on their Twitter accounts, despite Bolsonaro, in particular, being a fervent social media user.
Netanyahu had told reporters as he flew into Rio that he was going to raise the embassy topic as a priority when he met Bolsonaro.