On Standby

Relocating an embassy is the kind of promise the government would rather forget.

Apparently, the idea of relocating the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is falling within the realm of campaign promises the government would rather see forgotten.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and home to its executive branch and their parliament, the Knesset. However, because the city is still seen as the object of conflict with the Palestinians, who also claim it as their capital, essentially all nations keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, as they wait for a definitive peace deal.

Successive Israeli administrations handled this situation well, without demanding from even their closest allies that embassies be relocated. It was in response to their public that, first, Donald Trump, and later, Jair Bolsonaro, promised to relocate their embassies.

Both wished to please groups of evangelical supporters, who, for theological reasons, believe that a Jewish-controlled Jerusalem is a precondition for the return of Christ.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration obviously appreciated the unexpected gesture. The Islamic countries, however, viewed these attitudes as biased toward Israel.

The United States, which is still the major global power, can go forward with the relocation absent any fear of diplomatic or commercial retaliation. Clearly, Brazil does not possess the same status. It is subject to retaliation. For example, there has been talk of halting the import of goods such as halal meat, which is slaughtered according to Islamic ritual.

Actually, the pressure for the Bolsonaro administration to give up the relocation has already begun. This was precisely the reason for the meeting, last Wednesday (Feb. 6) between Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavasoglu, in Washington.

Odds are the president will, even without explicitly renouncing the promise he shouted from rooftops, put the relocation on standby.

After all, finding land suitable for an embassy can take a long time. This seems like the best solution at this point, but it will not stop conjuring up a small electoral deception.

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