Photo Credit: Wiki Commons
Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro

The Arab League has warned Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro in a letter seen by Reuters that moving the country’s embassy to Jerusalem will cause problems in relations with Arab nations.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit wrote in his letter to the Brazilian foreign ministry that the sovereign decision on where to locate a country’s embassy rests with its government.

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“However, the situation with Israel is not normal, seeing that it is a country that has been occupying Palestinian territories by force — among them East Jerusalem,” the letter stated. Aboul Gheit added that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be considered a violation of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“The Arab world has much respect for Brazil and we want not just to maintain relations but to improve and diversify them,” he wrote. “But the intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem could harm them.”

Some of the largest importers of halal meat purchase their supplies from Brazil; as a result, friction with the Arab world could indeed create problems with the Islamic food industry.

However, Israel and Brazil signed a memorandum of understanding this week between the Israel Innovation Authority and the Brazilian Agency for Industrial Research and Innovation.

Brazil is home to some 120,000 Jews. The $5 million technology agreement calls for joint collaboration on projects involving technology, the life sciences, energy and agriculture for up to 24 months, to be funded by both countries.

Israeli-Brazilian trade reached $1.12 billion in 2016, and rose to $1.35 in 2017.

However, Brazil’s total exports to the group of 22 Arab countries was $13.5 billion in 2017, and the first embassy for the Palestinian Authority in the Western hemisphere was established in Brasilia in February 2016. Brazil also continues to affirm its support for the so-called “two-state solution.”

Whether the promise of a Brazilian embassy in Jerusalem will come to pass, or simply pass away, remains to be seen.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.