Brazil says it has recognized the state of Palestine based on borders at the time of Israel's 1967 conquest of the West Bank.
The Foreign Ministry says the recognition is in response to a request made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Silva sent a letter to Abbas on Dec. 1, saying Brazil recognizes Palestine and hopes that the recognition will help lead to states of Israel and Palestine "that will coexist peacefully and in security."
The foreign ministry says that the recognition is "in line with Brazil's historic willingness to contribute to peace between Israel and Palestine." (Brazil recognizes Palestinian state, Seattlepi.com, Nov. 2010)
In a parallel statement, the Brazilian government assured relations with Israel "have never been more robust."
Brazil has offered to help mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which were briefly revived in September before grounding to a halt over the resumption of Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories.
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Abbas visited Brazil in 2005 and 2009, and Lula made the first-ever trip by a Brazilian head of state to Palestine and Israel in March this year. (Brazil recognizes Palestine, al-Jazeera.com, Dec. 5, 2010 (AFP Report))
“I’ve had a dream for the past three years, to organize a peace game in a neutral stadium, of a mixed team, Israel and Palestinians, against the Brazilian national team,” Lula said today in his weekly radio program. “This would be an extraordinary achievement for Brazil and, above all, a very important sign for peace.”
Brazil is seeking a broader role in the Middle East as part of the country’s push for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Lula this month hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. (Andre Soliani Costa, Lula Seeks Brazil Soccer Game Versus Israel-Palestine (Update1), Bloomberg, Nov. 23, 2009))
U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, a member of President Barack Obama's Democratic party, meanwhile scorned the decision over the weekend as “severely misguided,” and said it “represents a last gasp by a Lula-led foreign policy which was already substantially off track.”
A co-chair of the Congressional Brazil Caucus, Engel noted the soon-to-be ex-president had grown close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He was quoted by the AFP news service as saying Brazil “wants to establish itself as a voice in the world but is making the wrong choices as it tries to do so.” (U.S. Israel Slam Brazil's Recognition of PA as New Country, Israel National News, Dec. 5, 2010).
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is the first Brazilian president to visit Israel officially. Lauded for his charisma, swing and formidable negotiating powers - United States President Barack Obama refers to him as "the man" - little did Lula know that to engage his hosts this week he would have to give the Prophet Abraham a run for his money, no less. . . . After being grilled in the Knesset - including by Netanyahu - for his policy of non-confrontation and dialogue with Iran, Lula did not flinch. He condemned both the Holocaust and terrorism; he reminded his hosts of Brazil's and Latin America's stand against nuclear weapons; he stressed "dialogue" and "compassion" to solve the Middle East conflict; he defended a viable two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; but he also did not refrain from criticizing the expanded colonization of East Jerusalem. He received a standing ovation and, according to some members of parliament, "more applause than [former US president] George W Bush". . . . Lula and Netanyahu have adopted a bilateral system of meetings between heads of state and top ministers every two years. (Id.)
"Iran supports Hamas with money. Hamas' decisions are in the hands of Tehran," Abbas said Friday in an interview with the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo.
Abbas' remarks were clearly aimed at Lula's next Middle East visitor on Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I hope [Lula] can tell [Ahmadinejad] a few things about everything that is happening in the Middle East. I think the president will," Abbas was quoted as saying.(Id.)
For Latino/as, Brazil's moves offers a broadening perspective, as well as the possibility of life beyond the passive voice, either within host states or in the international community. It is possible that as the political interests of Latino/a communities within the United States expands, it will be seen less often as that group that can be mobilized only to protect its more narrowly defined set of (self) interests.