Brazil foreign minister says Israeli counterpart ‘lying’ in Gaza spat

Brazil foreign minister says Israeli counterpart ‘lying’ in Gaza spat

BRASILIA, Feb 21 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Brazil’s foreign minister on Tuesday accused his Israeli counterpart of lying as a diplomatic spat escalated over President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s comparison of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Mauro Vieira, whose country is hosting a G20 foreign ministers meeting this week, said statements by Israel Katz were “unacceptable in their nature and lying in their content” as well as “outrageous.”

Israel has reacted furiously after Lula said the conflict in the Gaza Strip “isn’t a war, it’s a genocide,” and compared it to “when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Lula had “crossed a red line,” and Katz declared the Brazilian leader “persona non grata in the state of Israel so long as he doesn’t retract his remarks and apologize.”

Katz summoned Brazil’s ambassador Frederico Meyer for a meeting Monday at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem.

In a tit-for-tat move, the Brazilian foreign ministry then summoned the Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Zonshinem, and recalled Meyer from Tel Aviv for consultations.

On Tuesday, Katz took to X to describe Lula’s comparison as “delusional.”

Veteran leftist Lula, 78, is a prominent voice for the Global South and his country holds the rotating presidency of the G20.

His comments came as Brazil prepared to host a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting Wednesday and Thursday, with top diplomats including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gathering in Rio de Janeiro.

The war started on October 7, when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack that left about 1,160 people dead in southern Israel, mostly civilians.

Hamas militants also took about 250 hostages — 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed more than 29,195 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Lula had described the Hamas attack as a “terrorist” act but has since grown vocally critical of Israel’s response.

He received backing Tuesday from the presidents of Colombia and Bolivia, two fellow South American countries to have criticized Israel.

“In Gaza there is a genocide and thousands of children, women and elderly civilians are cowardly murdered. Lula has only spoken the truth and truth must be defended or barbarism will annihilate us,” Colombia’s Gustavo Petro said on X.

Bolivia’s Luis Arce, on the same forum, expressed solidarity with Lula who he said was merely “telling the truth about the genocide that is committed against the brave Palestinian people.”

He added: “History will not forgive those who are indifferent to this barbarity.”

The United States has said it disagreed with Lula’s comments. Blinken is to meet Lula on Wednesday.

Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia supported South Africa’s complaint against Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, alleging the Gaza assault amounted to a breach of the Genocide Convention. — NNN-AGENCIES


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