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Brazil to condemn Israel at Mercosur summit

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff hopes to gain support form Mercosur members over Brazil’s diplomatic row with Israel.
Will ask regions partners for support in diplomatic row which led to envoy withdrawal

BRASILIA — Brazil is set to propose at the summit of Presidents of Mercosur next Tuesday that the organism condemns Israel’s military offensive on the Gaza Strip after the diplomatic quarrel that it had with the Jewish state, which led to it recalling an envoy from Tel Aviv.

The Mercosur summit will be held in Caracas next Tuesday. Brazil will ask Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela to discuss the Middle East situation and the statements made by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that infuriated Dilma Rousseff’s government, claiming Brazil was a “diplomatic dwarf” and a country that “promotes terrorism.”

“Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and has a long history of cooperation in the search for international peace. It can not be considered a diplomat dwarf,” said Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, in response to Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs harsh remarks.

“Brazil is one of 11 countries worldwide that have diplomatic relations with all UN members. And we have a history of cooperation with international peace processes. If anyone is a diplomatic dwarf it certainly is not Brazil,” Figuereido told reporters from EFE and Globo newspaper yesterday.

The remark was aimed at the spokesperson for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yigal Palmor, who, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, described Brazil as a “diplomat dwarf” for criticizing the Israeli offensive and labelling its use of force in Gaza as “disproportionate.”

Figueiredo said: “The fact that Brazil and Israel are allies does not prevent us from disagreeing on certain issues.”

‘Normal procedure’

“The Brazilian ambassador to Israel was recalled. It is a normal procedure in international diplomacy that shows we are not happy with what is going on,” he added.

According Figueiredo, Brazil can not agree with an “overreaction that has killed nearly 700 people, of which roughly 70 percent are civilians, including women, children and the elderly.”

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lamented Brazil’s decision to withdraw its ambassador, claiming the country was politically “irrelevant.”

“The only thing Brazil achieves with this decision is supporting terrorism and naturally losing power to influence in the Middle East,” said the Israeli government in a press release yesterday.

Figueiredo recalled that in a statement released last week Brazil had condemned Hamas for its rocket attacks on Israel and that his country’s position had not changed.

‘Genocide’

Prior to Figueiredo’s comments, the principal adviser to the Brazilian presidency in international affairs Marco Aurelio García, yesterday described the Israeli offensive as “genocide.”

“What we are seeing in the Middle East is genocide, it is slaughter,” said García in an interview.

García’s declarations attracted an immediate response from the Jewish organization Wiesenthal Centre, which demanded a “public apology” from the Brazil authorities.

“Ironically, this accusation was made seconds after the special adviser emphasized the importance of maintaining a ‘cautious position.’ One can not help but wonder: according to García what would then be an extreme position?” wrote Shimon Samuels, director of International Relations for the Wiesenthal Centre, and Sergio Widder, director for Latin America.

Rousseff last week criticized the Israeli offensive in Gaza during the BRICS summit, but went further on Thursday by recalling Brazilian ambassador in Tel Aviv Henrique Pinto.

In Brazil it was not only the government that got offended by the Israeli government’s remarks. The campaign committee for presidential candidate Aécio Neves, leader of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and second in opinion polls, gave its support to the government’s position on Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

The responsible for Neves’ foreign policy Rubens Barbosa said he agreed with the government in criticizing the Jewish state’s attacks in Gaza and said Brazil must stand firm in favour of creating of a Palestinian state and negotiate a end to the armed conflict.

Herald with Télam, AP

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