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Will Israel-Brazil row escalate as envoys recalled over Lula's Hitler comments?

Both Israel and Brazil are still recoiling after Brazilian President Luiz Ignazio Lula da Silva likened Israel's actions during the Gaza war to the Nazi regime.
BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 4: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at Chancellory on December 4, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. The German and Brazilian governments are holding consultations today in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Tuesday that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will remain persona non-grata in the country until he apologizes for his comment last Sunday likening the war in Gaza against Hamas to the Nazi regime during World War II, but Brazil officials insisted that Lula will not retract his comments. 

‘’Millions of Jews around the world are waiting for your apology. How dare you compare Israel to Hitler?’’ Katz posted on X in Hebrew and Portuguese. ‘’Your comparison is promiscuous, delusional. Shame on Brazil and a spit in the face of Brazilian Jews,’’ wrote Katz, urging Lula to apologize. ‘’Until then — you will remain persona non grata in Israel!’’ he warned.

The post by Katz came as a reaction to comment made by Lula while addressing the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Lula slammed Israeli military’s actions in Gaza, qualifying them as genocide. He stated, “It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.” The Brazilian president added, “What's happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn't happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also criticized Lula for his comments Sunday night, posting on X, "The words of the president of Brazil are shameful and serious." 

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