Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Brazil recalls envoy to Israel following spat over Lula’s comments on Gaza genocide

Brazil’s foreign ministry has said that the country’s ambassador to Israel has been called home, following an Israeli announcement that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would be “persona non grata” until he retracted comments drawing parallels between Israel’s war on Gaza and the Holocaust.

“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,” the foreign ministry said.

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

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and compared its war on Gaza with Adolf Hitler’s campaign to exterminate Jewish people.

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip isn’t a war, it’s a genocide,” Lula told reporters in Addis Ababa where he was attending an African Union summit on Sunday.

“It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children,” added the Brazilian president.

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn’t happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he would summon Brazil’s ambassador for a reprimand over the remarks.

“No one will compromise Israel’s right to defend itself,” Katz said on X, adding that the envoy would be summoned on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the comments as “disgraceful and grave”.

“This is a trivialisation of the Holocaust and an attempt to attack the Jewish people and the right of Israel to self-defence. Drawing comparisons between Israel and the Nazis and Hitler is to cross a red line,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

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