Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, in his last month as Brazil’s president, caused anger in Israel and the United States by officially acknowledging Palestinian sovereignty over territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
By breaking ranks with his South American allies, President Lula appeared to be consolidating his legacy as the leader that turned Brazil into a major force on the world stage.
But the move was denounced by Israel as a unilateral attempt to bypass the peace process that would “harm trust” between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships.
President Lula’s decision, announced in a public letter to Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian counterpart, is the latest evidence of Brazil’s growing interest in the politics of the Middle East.
In recent years, Brazil has been involved in unofficial “back channel” negotiations between Israel and Syria. In March, President Lula also became the first Brazilian leader officially to visit the Holy Land.
The trip was not without its controversies. Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, refused to meet the president after he turned down an invitation to lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism.
President Lula’s decision also earned the anger of pro-Israel members of Congress, who called it “severely misguided” and said it would serve to “undermine peace and security in the Middle East”.
Brazil’s foreign ministry defended the move, saying it still believed a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian leadership was “essential”.
More than 100 states, mostly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, have recognised Palestinian statehood, and Brazil becomes the last of the BRIC group of emerging powers – Brazil, Russia, India and China – to do so.
But Israel fears that other South American countries could now follow suit and there was speculation that Peru do so in the next few days – Telegraph