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Will Brazil honor Jerusalem as Israeli capital?

BRASILIA, Brazil (BP) — Newly elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro may withhold recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during his upcoming visit to the Middle East, possibly reneging on a campaign pledge.

Opposition from military officers in Brazil’s cabinet may hinder Bolsonaro from relocating Brazil’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, JewishPress.com has reported.

Bolsonaro, supported by evangelicals who comprise about 27 percent of Brazil’s population, is among a small list of nations who have pledged to honor the Israeli capital of Jerusalem in diplomatic relations, although some have stopped short of relocating their embassies there.

Bolsonaro will visit Israel March 31 – April 2 in the last leg of his first official international travel as president. He met with U.S. President Donald Trump, whom he has praised, at the White House March 19 before visiting Chile.

Brazil is the world’s ninth-largest economy and, according to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. is Brazil’s second-largest trading partner.

Trump in May 2018 relocated the U.S. Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, drawing criticism from the United Nations but praise from evangelicals in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Guatemala followed Trump’s example just two days later, becoming the second nation to desert the widely held consensus in international law that Jerusalem’s status must be settled in negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, both of whom claim ownership of the holy city.

Jerusalem is the God-given capital of Israel, evangelicals widely believe, but Israel has existed as a modern state only since 1948. Modern Israel has occupied the entire city of Jerusalem since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez verbally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference March 24 in Washington. Hernandez will open a trade office in Jerusalem, he said at AIPAC, but will retain the Honduran Israeli embassy in Tel Aviv.

Romania is studying the possibility of moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said at AIPAC, but Romanian President Klaus Iohannis opposes the move. Dancila’s announcement “shows complete ignorance regarding foreign affairs,” the French news agency AFP quoted Iohannis today (March 25) as saying.

Moldova President Igor Dodon said in December 2018 he would “very seriously consider” moving the nation’s embassy to Jerusalem, AFP reported.

As many as a dozen nations are considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.