Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hailed as “historic” Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“I congratulate my friend Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro for his intention to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Bolsonaro had earlier tweeted that “as previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

“Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” he said.

Brazil would become the largest country after the United States to make the deeply controversial move. Bolsonaro is to be sworn in on January 1.

US President Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent in December when he declared Jerusalem Israel’s capital and announced the embassy would move there.

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Palestinian leaders cut off contact with Trump’s White House following the declaration.

The US embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated in May.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians consider east Jerusalem, where key holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews are located, the capital of their future state.

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International consensus has been that the city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.

Guatemala and Paraguay also moved their embassies to Jerusalem after the US transfer, though the latter announced in September it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.

SOURCE: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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