Brazil-Israel row escalates as Lula declared 'persona non grata'

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's comparison of Israel's military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust has unleashed a diplomatic firestorm, with Brazil recalling its ambassador Monday and Israel declaring Lula "persona non grata."

The row erupted the day before when Lula said the ongoing 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 Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Lula is "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 said it had also summoned the Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Zonshine, for a meeting later that same day, and recalled Meyer from Tel Aviv for consultations.

According to a diplomatic source, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira and Zonshine had a "harsh, but appropriate" conversation, as Vieira "demonstrated dissatisfaction" with the treatment of Meyer and Lula in Jerusalem over the situation.

That included Meyer being forced to listen to a statement in Hebrew "without an interpreter, without knowing what was being said," the source added.

 G20 meeting

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

His comments came as Brazil prepares to host a G20 foreign ministers' meeting Wednesday and Thursday, when top diplomats including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and...

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