Brazil’s president withdraws ambassador to Israel

29 May 2024, 18:24

Brazil Floods
Brazil Floods. Picture: PA

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been a frequent critic of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva withdrew his ambassador to Israel on Wednesday after months of tensions between the two countries over the war in Gaza.

The move was announced in Brazil’s official gazette.

No official message has yet been received from the Brazilian government on the matter, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.

Against the background of the report, the Brazilian charge d’affaires was summoned to appear at the ministry on Thursday for a meeting on the subject.

Brazil Floods
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Israel (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Mr Lula has been a frequent critic of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which he compared to the Holocaust earlier this year.

That led Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz to summon the Brazilian ambassador to the National Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem for a public reprimand.

At the time, Mr Lula called Brazil’s ambassador Frederico Meyer home.

Wednesday’s action represented an escalation, a diplomatic downgrade, with the Brazilian Embassy in Israel still there but without an ambassador in the post.

According to a person at Brazil’s foreign ministry, the official removal was in response to Mr Meyer’s humiliation by Israel’s top diplomat.

Mr Meyer has been transferred to Geneva and will join Brazil’s permanent mission to the United Nations and other international organisations.

The latest war in Gaza, now in its eighth month, began when the Palestinian militant Hamas group burst into southern Israel in a surprise attack on October 7, killing some 1,200 civilians and taking around 250 hostages.

Israel’s offensive in response to that attack has killed at least 36,096 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its count.

Israel says it has killed 13,000 militants.

In February, Brazil’s Mr Lula said that “what is happening in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian people hasn’t been seen in any other moment in history. Actually, it did when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Israel says its war in Gaza is a defensive action triggered by Hamas’ unprecedented assault and rejects any comparisons of its offensive to the Holocaust.

By Press Association

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