Israel declares Brazilian President Lula ‘persona non grata’ over ‘antisemitic’ comments

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Monday (Feb 19th) declared that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is unwelcome in Israel until he retracts his remarks comparing the campaign against Hamas in Gaza to the Nazi genocide.

Summoning Brazil’s ambassador on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s instructions, Katz emphasised the seriousness of Lula’s comments. Labelling them as a “serious antisemitic attack” he said that the Brazilian leader is “persona non grata” until he takes back the remark.

As per a statement from his office, he has instructed the message to be conveyed to Lula through Brazil’s ambassador, stating, “We will not forget nor forgive. It is a serious antisemitic attack. In my name and the name of the citizens of Israel – tell President Lula that he is persona non grata in Israel until he takes it back.”

The Brazilian President on Sunday (Feb 18th) accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Further drawing a comparison between Israeli military actions and Adolf Hitler’s campaign to exterminate the Jewish people, he said, “It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.”

While attending an African Union summit, Lula told reporters that what was happening in the Gaza Strip “isn’t a war, it’s a genocide”.

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