Photo Credit: TPS

At week’s end Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed a statement by Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro affirming that he would follow up on his election campaign promise to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“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 Thursday.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the statement, saying “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!”

If Bolsonaro goes through with the move, Brazil will become the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala.

Paraguay moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May, but less than four months later the country’s new government reversed the decision. In response, Israel recalled its ambassador to Asunción and closed its embassy.

Bolsonaro’s statement is a marked change in policy from those of previous Brazilian governments which have taken a strong pro-Palestinian stance. In 2016, the Palestinian Authority opened an embassy in Brasilia, amid a diplomatic spat between Israel and Brazil over the appointment of Dani Dayan as Israel’s next ambassador. Dayan, a former resident of Samaria, chaired the Council of Judea and Samaria Jewish Communities (Yesha Council) from 2007 to 2013.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Bolsonaro and congratulated him on his election. “I am certain that your election will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and the tightening of links between Brazil and Israel,” Netanyahu said. “We await your visit to Israel.”

Bolsonaro will be sworn in on January 1, 2019.

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