Palestinians slam ‘provocative’ Brazil embassy move to Jerusalem

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said that he would move Brazil’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem. (Reuters)
Updated 02 November 2018
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Palestinians slam ‘provocative’ Brazil embassy move to Jerusalem

  • Move comes six months after the United States controversially transferred its embassy
  • Palestinians consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state

RAMALLAH: A senior Palestinian official on Friday condemned Brazilian far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that he would move his country’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem.
The move announced Thursday comes six months after the United States controversially transferred its embassy, and aligns the incoming Brazilian leader squarely with US President Donald Trump.
The Palestinians consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state.
“These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilize security and stability in the region,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told AFP.
“It is very unfortunate that Brazil has joined this negative alliance against international law,” she said, referring to a small number of countries supporting the US decision, which sparked fury among Palestinians.
On Thursday Bolsonaro tweeted that “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,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as “historic.”
“I congratulate my friend Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro for his intention to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!” he said in a statement.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip and has fought three wars with Israel in a decade, also condemned the announcement.
“We consider this a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arabic and Islamic world,” spokesman Sami Abu Zahri wrote on Twitter Friday.
The Palestinians cut off ties with the Trump administration after the decision was first announced in December 2017, saying the government’s pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between themselves and Israel.
Ashrawi did not mention any potential downgrading of ties with Brazil.
Israel occupied Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in moves never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its capital.
For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
Guatemala and Paraguay also moved their embassies to Jerusalem after the US transfer, though the latter announced in September it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.
The embassies of all other countries are located in Tel Aviv.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.