Brazil summons Israeli ambassador over Gaza row

AFP , Monday 19 Feb 2024

Brazil said Monday it had summoned the Israeli ambassador, in a tit-for-tat move escalating a row that erupted when President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva compared Israel's military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Brazil s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Brazil s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaking during the opening ceremony of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on February 17, 2024. AFP


The Brazilian foreign ministry said in a statement that Brazil had also recalled its own ambassador from Tel Aviv for "consultations," after Israel summoned the Brazilian envoy and declared Lula "persona non grata" over his remarks Sunday, demanding an apology.

"Given the gravity of the statements this morning by the government of Israel, Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira... has summoned the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Zonshine, to report today to the foreign ministry," it said.

"He also recalled the Brazilian ambassador in Tel Aviv, Frederico Meyer, for consultations. He will depart for Brazil tomorrow."

The row started Sunday, when Lula said the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip "isn't a war, it's a genocide" and compared it to "when Hitler decided to kill the Jews."

Israel then summoned Brazil's ambassador for a meeting with Foreign Minister Israel Katz at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem.

"He's persona non grata in the state of Israel so long as he doesn't retract his remarks and apologize," Katz said of Lula.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Lula had "crossed a red line."

Veteran leftist Lula, 78, has also faced backlash at home over his statements, which came during a press conference on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The Brazil-Israel Institute called his comments "vulgar," and warned they risk "fueling anti-Semitism."

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