Brazil's president placed a wreath on the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Wednesday and sharply criticized Israeli policies, leading Israeli officials to suggest he was not being evenhanded.
Making the first visit by any sitting Brazilian president to Israel and the Palestinian territories, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has termed the trip a mission of peace.
Lula laid a yellow and green wreath on Arafat's mausoleum on Wednesday, following protocol for visiting leaders. The visit came a day after Israel's hawkish foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said he boycotted meetings with Lula because the Brazilian did not pay a similar visit to the grave of Zionist founder Theodor Herzl.
Foreign Ministry officials were fuming on Wednesday that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who refused to lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl in Jerusalem, contrary to new Israeli protocol measures recently instituted, donned a keffiyeh around his shoulders and laid a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.That pretty much sums it up.
“This is an insult,” one senior Foreign Ministry official said. “It is offensive that he laid a wreath at the grave of a terrorist, but not at the tomb of Zionism’s visionary."