Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met with members of the Palestinian community in Brazil at Plaza Sao Rafael hotel in Porto Alegre state. A delegation from the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL) and others from the Palestinian community in Brazil were attendance and delivered a letter to Lula.
"We are here as Palestinians and Brazilians of Palestinian descent who want the best for Brazil," FEPAL President, Ualid Rabah, said at the meeting. Rabah praised Lula's role in increasing relations with Arab world during his presidency. "It generated jobs in Brazil, its entrepreneurs gained dynamism and an international market for all classes and nationalities of society."
The letter delivered to Lula "expresses some of the main concerns and proposals from the Palestinian-Brazilian Arab community for relations between Brazil and Palestine, as well as issues of concern in Brazil," Rabah explained.
Among the proposals is continued support for Palestine in accordance with the numerous UN resolutions such as the right of return of refugees and ratification on a series of cooperation agreements between Brazil and Palestine.
The Palestinian community also presented Lula with several gifts as a symbol of the history and heritage of the Palestinian people, including Arabic calligraphy with the phrase "Lula is the best president in Brazil", a shirt from the Palestinian refugee football team, and prayer beads in the colours of the Palestinian flag. They also presented Lula´s wife, Rosangela Silva, a handkerchief with traditional Palestinian embroidery.
"Palestinians deserve our full attention and solidarity," Lula said. Wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh he welcomed the Palestinian community and stressing on the important relations between Brazil and Palestine and the relations that Brazil built with the Arab world and its governments.
He stressed that the Palestinian people have the right to live in a "free and sovereign state", adding that he will work to reestablish the leading role of Brazilian foreign policy in the mediation of conflicts and of peoples' right to defend themselves.
In 2010, Lula recognised Palestine as an independent state within the 1967 borders, with Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador doing so almost immediately afterwards. The majority of South American states followed suit within the first three months of 2011. In the same year, Lula made the first ever trip by a serving or former Brazilian head of state to Palestine. He had taken many measures in favour of Palestine, including raising diplomatic representation between the two countries and allocating a plot of land near the Brazilian presidential palace for the Palestinian Embassy.
The current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro broke with this stance and has outwardly supported the occupation state of Israel. However, analysts believe Lula has a 70 per cent percent chance of winning the upcoming election in October. The question is whether he will maintain his support for Palestinian if he returns to power.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.