At the West Bank, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro

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“The credibility of the current governance international system is under the rubble of Gaza,” said Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira after arriving in Ramallah, West Bank, on Sunday (17). In a meeting with Palestinian chancellor Riyad Al Maliki, an agreement was made that Brazil will be one of the leaders of a campaign to include Palestine as a UN full member. 

Since 2012, Palestine has participated in debates at the UN General Assembly but cannot vote. For Brazil’s foreign ministry – which advocates for the two-state solution to the colonial conflict in the region, a solution ratified by the UN – the admission of Palestine as a UN member is a relevant step. However, to see it happen, the US must not use its veto power. 

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Also on Sunday, Vieira participated in a ceremony that gave President Lula (Workers’ Party) honorary membership on the Board of Trustees of the Yasser Arafat Foundation.

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Vieira talked for about 20 minutes with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The minister gave him a Brazilian national soccer team jersey autographed by Rodrygo, who plays for Real Madrid.  

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“I’ll say it very clearly,” Vieira started in Ramallah: “It’s illegal and immoral to prevent people from accessing food and water. It’s illegal and immoral to attack humanitarian operations and those seeking help. It’s illegal and immoral to prevent sick and injured people from receiving medical care. It’s illegal and immoral to destroy hospitals, holy places, cemeteries and shelters.”

The Brazilian government also announced it will continue sending financial contributions to the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). However, Brazil’s contribution is symbolic since it’s only US$ 75,000 per year.

After Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of participating in the October 7 Hamas attacks, funding countries have suspended their transfers to the organization that sends humanitarian aid to Gaza, including the United States. The 12 workers were fired and are being investigated.  

Israel not included in the trip

That’s the first trip Minister Mauro Vieira has made to the Middle East. Besides the West Bank (one of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories), he will also visit Jordania, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. According to Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, the absence of Tel Aviv on the list, which is customary for diplomatic reasons, has nothing to do with the recent strained relations between the two countries. 

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Vieira’s trips are made based on government invitations and were planned before the recent crisis. Netanyahu’s government did not invite the Brazilian foreign minister. 

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The diplomatic discomfort erupted after President Lula compared the massacre committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip – which has killed at least 31,000 people, mostly women and children, since October last year – to the extermination of Jews carried out by Nazi Germany. In response, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said the Brazilian president had crossed “a red line”.

Israel Katz, the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, invited the Brazilian ambassador to Israel, Frederico Meyer, for a visit to the Holocaust Museum. There, Katz spoke only in Hebrew (a language Meyer does not speak) and announced that Lula is “persona non grata” in Israel until he says sorry. Itamaraty (as Brazil’s Foreign Ministry is also known) brought Meyer back to Brazil.  

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho

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