Brazil and Israel: diplomatic conflicts on the war in Gaza

Brazil and Israel: diplomatic conflicts on the war in Gaza
© Matheus Campos Felipe, 2019.


Júlia Barreto Reis

International Justice Team Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

On February 18th, 2024, during the annual meeting of the African Union in Ethiopia, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and compared its interventions to Adolf Hitler’s campaign to exterminate Jewish people. According to Lula, “It is not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It is a war between a highly prepared army and women and children”. 

In response, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked Lula’s declarations and said his government had called the ambassador of Brazil in protest. Netanyahu stated that “The comparison between Israel to the Holocaust of the Nazis and Hitler is crossing a red line” and declared the President of Brazil “persona non grata” in Israel. 

On February 19th, 2024, Lula recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, Frederico Meyer, to the country for consultations. This decision is usually taken when one country wishes to express disapproval of another’s actions. Mauro Vieira, Brazil’s Foreign Minister, also summoned Israeli ambassador Daniel Zonshine to the Itamaraty Palace in Rio de Janeiro. 

After Lula’s declarations, Israel is consistently demanding an apology from the Brazilian President and the Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz reaffirmed that Lula “will remain persona non grata in Israel” until he apologises. The ongoing diplomatic discord between Lula and Israel is progressively intensifying, and it is anticipated to further escalate in the imminent days.

Sources and further readings:

New York Times, 'Brazil and Israel on the Brink of War as Lula Appoints Ambassador' (2024) The New York Times Accessed 20 February 2024.

Al Jazeera, 'Brazil's President Lula Compares Israel's War on Gaza to the Holocaust' (2024) Al Jazeera Accessed 20 February 2024.

Jerusalem Post, 'Brazil's Lula compares Israel to Nazis, Gaza war to Holocaust' (2024) The Jerusalem Post Accessed 20 February 2024.