RAMALLAH: A senior Palestinian official on Friday condemned Brazilian far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that he would move his country’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem.
The move announced Thursday comes six months after the United States controversially transferred its embassy, and aligns the incoming Brazilian leader squarely with US President Donald Trump.
The Palestinians consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state.
“These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told AFP.
“It is very unfortunate that Brazil has joined this negative alliance against international law,” she said, referring to a small number of countries supporting the US decision, which sparked fury among Palestinians.
On Thursday Bolsonaro tweeted that “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,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as “historic.”
“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!” he said in a statement.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip and has fought three wars with Israel in a decade, also condemned the announcement.
“We consider this a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arabic and Islamic world,” spokesman Sami Abu Zahri wrote on Twitter Friday.
The Palestinians cut off ties with the Trump administration after the decision was first announced in December 2017, saying the government’s pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between themselves and Israel.
Ashrawi did not mention any potential downgrading of ties with Brazil.
Israel occupied Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in moves never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its capital.
For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
Guatemala and Paraguay also moved their embassies to Jerusalem after the US transfer, though the latter announced in September it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.
The embassies of all other countries are located in Tel Aviv.