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Netanyahu congratulates Brazil on 'historic' plan to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Brazil's new leader Jair Bolsonaro.The former paratrooper has vowed to be tough on crime. Source: AAP

Brazil is set to follow the United States and move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hailed as "historic" Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's plan to move his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"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!" Netanyahu said in a statement.

Bolsonaro had earlier tweeted that "as previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

Brazil would become the largest country after the United States to make the deeply controversial move. Bolsonaro is to be sworn in on January 1.

In interviews, Bolsonaro said Israel should have the right to decide where its capital is located, just as Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia in 1960.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, with international consensus being that the status of the whole city must be negotiated between the two sides.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

In December, President Donald Trump reversed longstanding US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, prompting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to boycott his administration.

trump's daughter at embassy
The US President's daughter Ivanka Trump unveils an inauguration plaque during the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem in May.
AFP

The embassy was officially transferred on May 14. Guatemala and Paraguay followed suit, though the latter announced last month it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.

Bolsonaro, 63, who won a run-off election on Sunday, has outraged many with his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.

Following his victory, Netanyahu told Bolsonaro he was certain his election "will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and the tightening of links between Brazil and Israel."

An official in Netanyahu's office told AFP the Israeli premier was "very likely" to attend Bolsonaro's inauguration ceremony in January.

Bolsonaro meanwhile plans to make Israel one of his first foreign trips as president, along with the United States and Chile -- countries that "share our worldview," according to the president-elect's future for chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni.

Source AFP - SBS

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