BRASILIA (Reuters) – The Arab League told Brazil's CEO, Jair Bolsonaro, that transferring the embassy of Brazil in Israel to Jerusalem would be a reverse for relations with Arab countries, in a letter he received on Monday or Monday.
FILE FILE: Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro reacts when he talks to the media at the Army's headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil on December 5, 2018. REUTERS / Adriano Machado
Such a move by Bolsonaro, which will take office on January 1, would be a strong change in Brazilian foreign policy, which traditionally supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ambassadors of Arab nations will meet this Tuesday in Brasilia to discuss Bolsonaro's plan to follow the decision of US President Donald Trump to transfer the Tel Aviv embassy to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, according to the Arab diplomat who asked not to be named
The letter to Bolsonaro of the secretary general of the league, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, said that the decision on where to find an embassy was the sovereign decision of any country.
"However, the situation in Israel is not normal, since it is a country that is occupying the Palestinian territories by force, including East Jerusalem," he said.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be considered a violation of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations National Security Council, said Aboul Gheit.
The movement of the embassy was praised as "historic" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who plans to attend the presidential inauguration of Bolsonaro, according to the Brazilian transition team.
"The Arab world has a lot of respect for Brazil and we want not only to maintain relationships but to improve and diversify. But the intention of transferring the embassy to Jerusalem could hurt them," said the diplomat.
Brazil is one of the leading Halal meat exporters in the world and that trade could suffer problems if Bolsonaro infuriates the Arab nations moving the embassy. This could hurt exports to major Middle Eastern markets for Brazilian pork producers BRF SA and JBS SA.
Halal meat is butcher and prepared according to Muslim law.
The meat exporters lobby lobbied the incoming president not to move the embassy, and seemed to change his mind.
But the son of the elected president, Eduardo Bolsonaro, spoke after visiting trumpet counselor and father-in-law Jared Kushner at the White House, said the movement of the embassy was not "but at times".
Anthony Boadle's report; Edition by Bill Berkrot and Richard Chang