Brazil embassy move to Jerusalem would be ‘attack’ on the Palestinians

Palestinian envoy says mission relocation would be a breach of international law

Palestinian Ambassador to Brazil Ibrahim Alzeben, speaks during an interview with AFP in Brasilia, on March 26, 2019.  Moving Brazil's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would be an "attack" on Palestinian people and a breach of international law, the Palestinian envoy to the Latin American country said Tuesday.  / AFP / EVARISTO SA
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If Brazil moves its embassy to Jerusalem as its president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged, it would be an “attack” on the Palestinian people, Ramallah’s envoy to the Latin American country said on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Alzeben said that the relocation of the mission from Tel Aviv to the contested city would be a breach of international law.

His remarks come just days before Mr Bolsonaro pays an official visit to Israel, where he is expected to discuss his campaign promise with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

"Moving the embassy of any country ... is a violation of international law and an attack on the Palestinian people," Mr Alzeben told AFP.

The move would be contentious and leave Brazil as one of the only countries in the world to have a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, alongside the US and Guatemala.

The controversial proposal has raised fears the shift could endanger Brazil's valuable meat exports to Arab markets.

The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of any future state but, since Israel captured the territory from Jordan in 1967, they have lived under an Israeli military occupation there. Israel has built a network of settlements, increasing its hold on Jerusalem, which it claims as a whole.

Virtually all countries agree that Jerusalem's status can only be defined through wider Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Paraguay backtracked on a decision last year to move its embassy. Israel and the US have spoken with Honduras about its embassy going to Jerusalem.

The Palestinians cut off ties with the Trump administration after its decision was first announced in December 2017, saying the government's pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between them and Israel.

Mr Bolsonaro will visit Israel from March 31 to April 3. Mr Alzeben said the Brazilian leader had been invited to visit Palestinian territories, but he had not responded.