JERUSALEM – Brazil will open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem as an extension of its embassy in Tel Aviv, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced on Sunday.
Katz’s announcement came during the official visit to Israel that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro began earlier in the day.
“Obrigado (Thank you) for opening a diplomatic office in Jerusalem!” Katz posted to his Twitter account. “Israel and Brazil are true friends sharing common values and we will strengthen the cooperation between our two countries.”
Israeli FM’s tweet was posted hours before the beginning of Bolsonaro’s joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when the official announcement is expected.
Following in the footsteps of his US counterpart, Donald Trump, the Brazilian leader had promised, during his electoral campaign, to make the controversial transfer of his country’s diplomatic legate to the Holy City.
Jerusalem’s eastern part is Palestinian; however that zone is occupied and annexed by Israel, in contradiction of United Nations resolutions.
Bolsonaro faced opposition from his government to his decision, opposition stemming from Brazil’s commercial relations with the Arab countries regarding the sale of halal meat (allowed for consumption by Islamic law).
That opposition ultimately reduced Bolsonaro’s plan to establishing a headquarters with diplomatic status.
Hungary and the Czech Republic have carried out similar movements, with the former opening a commercial office with diplomatic status in March, while the latter opened an honorary consulate in Jerusalem last year.
Both Budapest and Prague had supported the transfer of their embassies in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as US and Guatemala have done so far, but this step is being rejected by the consensus of the European Union.
Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro was received, as a special gesture, by Netanyahu at the airport of Tel Aviv, where the two leaders stressed the close ties between the two countries.
The president of Brazil is accompanied by a large delegation including some of his ministers and high officials, who signed six bilateral agreements with different Israeli ministers in the fields of security, aviation, science and technology, public safety, cybernetics and health.
At the end of the first day’s agenda, the Israeli premier is to invite Bolsonaro to a dinner in his honor at his residence in Jerusalem following the joint press conference scheduled for 1730 GMT.