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Brazil recalls envoy, condemns Gaza ‘genocide’

Members of the El Ajramy family salvage some of their belongings from their house, which was destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, yesterday.
Foreign Ministry slams ‘massacre’ as Israel accuses Brasilia of ‘promoting terrorism’

BRASILIA — The Brazilian government condemned the “genocide” in Gaza yesterday and recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv, which prompted the Israeli Foreign Relations Ministry to accuse Brasilia of being “politically irrelevant” and of “promoting terrorism.”

“For the love of God, what we have here is genocide, a massacre, to the point where top UN officials are starting to talk about war crimes” against Palestinians, Brazil’s Special Adviser for International Relations Marco Aurelio García told reporters.

Last week, President Dilma Rousseff had made a critical comment about the situation in Gaza during a BRICS bloc summit in Fortaleza but yesterday, her position became even clearer when she recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, Henrique Pinto. She also called Israeli envoy to Brasilia, Rafael Eldad, for talks.

In response, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry accused Brasilia of “promoting terrorism” by defending Hamas’ position.

“Brazil is choosing to be part of the problem instead of being part of the solution” to the conflict, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Brazil’s “attitude on this issue shows why this economic and cultural giant continues to be politically irrelevant,” a Jewish diplomatic source told Folha de São Paulo. Meanwhile, Folha’s correspondent in Gaza said that several Palestinians expressed their gratitude toward the Rousseff administration for recalling its envoy to Israel.

Special Adviser García said that he doesn’t adhere to radical positions. “We’ve had a cautious attitude both in the Middle East and in Ukraine,” following the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists this week, he said.

He underlined that Brazil “is respectful of the United Nations and it is acting in New York (where the UN headquarters are located) to put an end to this situation,” that has left more that 700 dead and 4,000 injured in Gaza.

He insisted that the Rousseff administration is adopting a realistic diplomatic course of action toward the crisis and discarded a multi-national, UN-backed operation in the Gaza Strip.

“What’s a UN intervention?” he asked rhetorically. “If we opted for an intervention, the Security Council would block it. And if anybody asks me if Brazil is going to send troops, I’ll say we are not in a position to do it,” he acknowledged.

García also said that the UN is “weakened” and attributed it to the lack of permanent representatives from Africa and Latin America in the Security Council. Brazil has been pushing for a seat at the Council.

“The Brazilian government considers that the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine is unacceptable and energetically condemns the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

Israel, disappointed

Yoel Barnea, Israel’s general consul in Sao Paulo, expressed disappointment and highlighted that Hamas has launched more than 2,000 rockets at Israel over the last 15 days, something Brazil doesn’t refer to in its statement.

“The Israeli government is extremely disappointed as (Brazil’s) statement doesn’t reflect the right of a nation to defend itself,” Barnea said.

“Brazil is a friend, but we think its position is not balanced. It doesn’t help the parties and does not contribute to progress in trying to resolve the situation,” he added.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying “such steps do not contribute to promote calm and stability in the region. Rather, they provide tailwind to terrorism, and naturally affect Brazil’s capacity to wield influence.”

The argentine position

Although not as strongly as Brazil, the Argentine government has also condemned the violence in Gaza. “Argentina pays deep, painful homage to all the children that have been killed in recent weeks,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry said.

“We energetically condemn that Israel — ignoring calls by the (UN’s) Security Council, its Secretary-General and several voices from the international community — has decided to launch a ground offensive in Gaza, which will result in more instability in the region, more deaths and more suffering,” the statement added.

The communiqué, however, also slammed the “continuous and indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza toward Israeli cities.”

Herald with Télam, online media

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