Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed he will move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Bolsonaro, speaking in an interview to SBT television late Thursday, said: “The decision is taken, it’s only a matter of when it will be implemented.”
The comment confirmed a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in Brazil last week to attend Bolsonaro’s January 1 swearing in.
Bolsonaro, a far-right former paratrooper intent on forging close ties with the US and Israel, signalled before taking office that he planned to follow President Donald Trump’s lead in moving Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem.
The decision is controversial because Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital while Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of its future state.
Virtually all countries agree that Jerusalem’s status can only be defined through wider Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
So far, only the United States and Guatemala have broken with that consensus by opening embassies in Jerusalem.
Bolsonaro, referred to as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’, said the main nation objecting to the move is Iran, not Arab countries.
“A large part of the Arab world is aligned or aligning itself with the United States. The Palestinian issue is already overloading people in the Arab world for the most part.”
“The only weighty voice speaking out against me is Iran,” the Shiite Islamic republic that is an enemy to Israel and hostile to Arab allies of the US such as Saudi Arabia.
He added that some of the “more radical” Arab nations “might adopt some sort of sanction — I hope only economic ones — against us.”