I’m old enough to remember when the idea of countries moving their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem was a huge controversy that swallowed up the news cycle. Whatever happened to that story? Well, it’s back in the news this week but we’re no longer talking about the United States. The new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, announced yesterday that his country would be following suit and moving their embassy as well. This represents a huge shift from the nation’s previous leftist governments which went out their way to criticize Israel and embrace the Palestinians. (Free Beacon)
Brazil is set to become the third nation—after the U.S. and Guatemala—to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s newly inaugurated president, announced during a television interview Thursday that his country would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The decision comes shortly after a high-profile state visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Times of Israel.
“Israel is a sovereign state and we must respect it,” Bolsonaro told Brazi’s SBT. “Only Israelis have the right to decide what the capital of Israel will be.”
Asserting that the decision was “taken” and it was “only a matter of time [before] it would be implemented,” Bolsonaro stated that only “extremist Arab countries” would object to the move.
Bolsonaro is carrying through with many of the promises he made during the campaign and delivering a series of warning shots to various countries. In his remarks, he took a direct swipe at Iran, calling that nation an “extremist Arab country.” He’d previously asserted that “Palestine is not a nation” and there has already been speculation that he will reverse his predecessor’s decision to recognize Palestine and allow them to have an unofficial embassy in Brasília.
More than anything else, Bolsonaro seems to be sending signals that Brazil will be aligned with the United States and the west in general. He even referenced America – and President Trump – in his speech, saying that much of the Arab world was now falling in line with the west and shutting out Iran and her remaining allies. Since Trump was the one who decided to move the U.S. embassy, it’s not a surprise that Brazil’s new leader would mimic that decision. (The only other country to consider such a move recently was Australia but they haven’t set a date to physically relocate their embassy.)
Bolsonaro has already been labeled the “Trump of the Tropics” in the media and it’s a tag he seems proud to wear. If he’s trying to gain the American president’s notice and admiration it seems to be working. Trump praised him right after his inauguration and seemed to indicate that he would be a welcome guest in Washington.
Brazil is definitely undergoing a noticeable shift to the right this year and that’s good news for Israel. So what does Bolsonaro get out of all this? Probably a shot at a better trade deal with the United States. He’s also staking out a position critical of the tyrant regime in Venezuela. Whether or not this “new Brazil” will last beyond Bolsonaro’s tenure as president remains to be seen, but if the voters are happy with his performance over the next couple of years it could become a sustainable trend.