A senior Palestinian official on Friday condemned Brazilian far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that he would move his country’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem.
“These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told AFP.
The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, sparking fury among Palestinians, who consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state.
“It is very unfortunate that Brazil has joined this negative alliance against international law,” Ashrawi said.
On Thursday Bolsonaro tweeted that “as previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
“Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as “historic.”
Only the United States and Guatemala currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, while other countries have theirs in Tel Aviv.
Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. It sees the entire city as its capital.
For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
The embassy move squarely aligns Bolsonaro with US President Donald Trump, and bolsters his image as a “Tropical Trump.” In December, Trump reversed longstanding policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, prompting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to boycott his administration.
The embassy was officially transferred on May 14, with Guatemala and Paraguay following suit, though the latter announced last month it was returning its embassy to Tel Aviv.
Bolsonaro, 63, who won a runoff election on Sunday, has outraged many with his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.
Following his victory, Netanyahu told Bolsonaro he was certain his election “will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and the tightening of links between Brazil and Israel.”
An official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP the premier was “very likely” to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremony in January.
Bolsonaro’s first foreign trips as president will be to Israel, the United States and Chile — countries that “share our worldview,” according to the president-elect’s intended chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni.