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  • Brazil's new president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, waves as he watches airplanes performing near his condo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Oct. 31, 2018.

    Brazil's new president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, waves as he watches airplanes performing near his condo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Oct. 31, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 November 2018

Jair Bolsonaro said he would move Brazil's embassy to Jerusalem once Israel confirms it as its capital.

Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom said Wednesday that he intends to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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According to Israel Hayom, this is the president-elect’s first foreign media interview after winning the elections against progressive candidate Fernando Haddad.

The interview, published Thursday said that Bolsonaro made it clear that his support for Israel was not just an election gimmick and that Israel should be the one to decide on its capital city, not foreign nations.

"Israel is a sovereign state. If you decide on your capital city, we will act in accordance. When I was asked during the campaign if I'll do it [relocate the embassy] when I was president, I said yes, and that you're the ones who decide on the capital of Israel, not other people.”

Commenting on the Palestinian embassy, the far-right leader said that Palestine has to be recognized as a country first to have an embassy.

"As for the Palestinian Embassy, it was built too close to the presidential palace. … No embassy can be so close to the presidential palace, so we intend to move it. There's no other way, in my opinion. Other than that, Palestine first needs to be a state to have the right to an embassy."

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, and the annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 is a means of fulfilling that claim. The Palestinians, on the other hand, consider East Jerusalem to be the capital of free Palestine.

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The international community does not recognize Israel’s ownership of East Jerusalem but earlier this year the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a move to recognize the same as Israel's capital.

Speaking about supporting Israel in the U.N., Bolsonaro said, "You can count on having our vote in the U.N. I know that often the vote is almost symbolic, but it helps to define the position a country intends to take. Rest assured that you can depend on our vote in the U.N. on almost all the issues having to do with Israel."

Bolsonaro and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “closeness” is also reflected by the fact that the latter might attend the president-elect’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 1, 2019, the first Israeli prime minister to do so.

Haaretz reported Wednesday that Netanyahu’s attendance is highly probable. The Israeli prime minister also spoke to Bolsonaro over the phone Monday and congratulated him on winning the election while inviting him to Israel.

"I am confident that your election will lead to a great friendship between the two peoples and to the strengthening of ties between Brazil and Israel," Netanyahu told Bolsonaro, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office. "We await your visit to Israel," Netanyahu added.

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