Brazil's Bolsonaro confirms plan to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Brazil's Bolsonaro confirms plan to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem
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Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that the country will relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following through on a campaign pledge and mirroring the Trump administration's own move.

"As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that," Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter. 

The Trump administration moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year over the objections of many U.S. allies and Palestinians, who view Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. 

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Trump has touted the move as a signature accomplishment on the campaign trail, despite the opening being marred by violence.

Paraguay and Guatemala have since followed suit in relocating their embassies.

Bolsonaro, the far-right populist who has earned the nickname "Trump of the Tropics," won Brazil's presidential election last month with roughly 55 percent of the vote.

The former military officer has raised concerns among international watchdogs who worry that he could become an authoritarian in the mold of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey or Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.

During the campaign, he spoke fondly of Brazil's old military dictatorship and made numerous derisive comments targeting women, black people and members of the LGBTQ community.

Bolsonaro has also praised Trump and echoed his attacks on the media as "fake news," China and criminals.

Trump returned the favor on Saturday, congratulating Bolsonaro for his electoral victory and saying the United States and Brazil will "work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else!"

Experts said following Bolsonaro's election that the two leaders are likely to find common ground on foreign policy issues related to Israel and Venezuela. 

"Bolsonaro is very pro-Israel," said Juan Carlos Hidalgo, a Latin America expert at the Cato Institute in Washington. "I wouldn’t be surprised if one of his first moves was to move the embassy to Jerusalem."