Brazil opened a new trade mission to Israel in Jerusalem on Sunday, appearing to edge back from earlier signals it would follow the United States by moving its full embassy to the contested city, ONA reports quoting Reuters.
The announcement came during a visit by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro - an outspoken admirer of President Donald Trump who broke global consensus by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moving the U.S. embassy there last May.
Bolsonaro had suggested in January he would follow suit with the embassy. That could have been a boost for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hopes to win a fifth term in an election next week.
But Brazilian senior officials later backed away from the idea, for fear of damaging trade ties with Arab countries.
“Brazil decided to create an office in Jerusalem to promote trade, investment, technology and innovation as a part of its embassy in Israel,” the Foreign Ministry in Brasilia said in a statement.
As with most other countries, the Brazilian embassy is in Tel Aviv.
“Obrigado (thanks) for opening a diplomatic office in Jerusalem!” acting Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted.
Netanyahu has sought to burnish his statecraft and security credentials during the election campaign in the face of a popular centrist challenger, former armed forces chief Benny Gantz.
Israel said on Sunday that Brazil had opened a “diplomatic office” in Jerusalem as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro began a visit to the country, ONA reports quoting Reuters.
“Obrigado for opening a diplomatic office in Jerusalem!” acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a Twitter post that included a photograph of himself shaking hands with Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araújo.