RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro confirmed Thursday the country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, making the Latin American country the largest after the United States to make the controversial switch.
The move from Tel Aviv, which will defy Palestinians and most of the world, is the latest controversial announcement by the former army captain, who has wasted no time implementing his hardline conservative agenda since his election win Sunday.
“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,” Bolsonaro tweeted.
He also made waves on the domestic front, naming the judge who has upended Brazilian politics with a massive corruption investigation, Sergio Moro, to be his justice minister.
Moro is a hero to many Brazilians for his unrelenting ‘Car Wash’ investigation, which uncovered the large-scale looting of state oil company Petrobras.
But for opponents, the move fueled accusations that the judge was politically motivated — especially against leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whom polls showed would have beaten Bolsonaro in the election had he not been jailed 12 years for corruption.
Bolsonaro promised in his victory speech to “change Brazil’s destiny,” and the four days since the election have given a glimpse of the magnitude of the change he has in mind.
The president-elect has doubled down on his vow to roll back gun-control laws so ‘good people’ can take justice into their own hands, lashed out at the news media and begun lining up a cabinet of political outsiders, including an army general and an ultra-free-market economist.
A favourite with the market, Bolsonaro’s election has seen Brazilian stocks gain 3.9 per cent in the week since the vote, closing at a record high Thursday.
The Sao Paulo stock exchange’s Ibovespa index added 1.14 per cent for the day to close at a record of 88,419 points, after breaking through the 89,000 barrier for the first time ever earlier in the day.
On the diplomatic front, the embassy move squarely aligns him with US President Donald Trump, and bolsters his image as a ‘Tropical Trump’.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
“I congratulate my friend Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro for his intention to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
Reversing long-standing US policy, the Trump administration transferred the American embassy on May 14. — AFP