Arab League condemns Brazil for trade office in Jerusalem

CAIRO (AP) — The Arab League on Thursday condemned Brazil’s opening of a trade office in the contested city of Jerusalem, warning the move will “seriously damage” Brazil’s political and economic interests in the Arab world.

At an emergency meeting convened in Cairo, representatives from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, among other states, criticized Brazil’s move as a violation of international law and voiced their continued support for Palestinian claims to the divided city.

In a statement, the council said that such a “negative change in Brazilian foreign policy toward Palestinians would seriously damage Arab-Brazilian shared political, economic and diplomatic interests," though did not offer specifics.

It expressed “deep regret” that the Brazilian government had reversed its decades-long Mideast policy.

The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of a future state. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

In the sharpest rebuke, Kuwait’s representative, Ambassador Ahmed Al-Bakr, expressed his country’s “complete rejection of any act of prejudice toward the legal status of the city,” adding the opening of a technical office constitutes a “clear and obvious violation of international resolutions.”

Algeria warned Brazil’s step would inflame tensions in the region and undermine efforts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, urging the Brazilian government to reevaluate.

Brazil, like other Latin American countries, has long sided with the Palestinians at the United Nations and other global bodies. But far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has found common ground with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

Brazil's establishment of a commercial office in Jerusalem is considered a potential first step toward relocating the embassy there, following the lead of U.S. President Trump.