Brasilia- Israel lost an ally in South America this week, when President Jair Bolsonaro, an enthusiastic Zionist supporter, lost to former president Lula da Silva, who is vocally pro-Palestinian and nurtured ties between Brazil and Iran.
Da Silva became the first Brazilian president to visit Israel in 2010, but the trip was marked with controversy as he refused to follow Israeli protocol of honouring Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl by visiting his grave during the trip, a norm for foreign dignitaries. Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Avigdor Liberman, refused to meet the visiting President due to the breach of protocol.
Da Silva further angered Israelis when he donned a keffiyeh on his shoulders and laid a wreath at the tomb of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.
Later in 2010, Brazil recognised a Palestinian state, setting off a wave of such recognitions in South America.
Da Silva continues to support unilateral Palestinian statehood, including Ramallah’s bid to become a UN member. In June of this year, he again wore a keffiyeh at an event and said that “Palestinians deserve our full attention and solidarity.”
Meanwhile Palestinians welcomed the victory of Da Silva against Bolsonaro, with hopes that Lula’s success will “boost the global support for Palestinians”.
Meanwhile, Dr Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the ‘Palestinian National Initiative,’ said that the election victory of Da Silva would boost the global support for Palestinians and pave the way for a “multi-polar world.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry also congratulated the victory of Lula da Silva and expressed hope that the relationship between Iran and Brazil which has always been based on “goodwill” and “mutual respect” will expand more under the leadership of the president-elect.
“The relations between the two countries, especially in the areas of economy and commerce, have been on the rise during the past years, and in view of the abundant existing potential in bilateral and multilateral ties the Islamic Republic of Iran hopes that this relationship will be consolidated and deepened in different areas during the presidency of Mr. Lula,” ministry said in its congratulatory message.
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