Brazil removes pro-Bolsonaro ambassador to Israel following Brasilia riots

Brazil removes pro-Bolsonaro ambassador to Israel following Brasilia riots
Gerson Menandro Garcia de Freitas, a retired general who had been appointed for Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil's ambassador to Israel, has been removed from his post by the country's new government.
2 min read
12 January, 2023
Bolsonaro and Netanyahu had a close relationship when both were in office [DEBBIE HILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Brazil has fired its ambassador to Israel as part of an apparent shake-up following the defeat of former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro in elections and the attack on the Brazilian parliament by his supporters. 

Gerson Menandro Garcia de Freitas is a retired general who was appointed as Brazil’s ambassador to Israel in 2020 by former President Jair Bolsonaro with the aim of improving security ties with Israel. 

De Freitas has been removed by foreign minister Mauro Viera.

This comes as new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva vowed to take a more "‘balanced and traditional" position on Israel’s occupation of Palestine, according to Axios, in stark contrast to the Bolsanaro's pro-Israel approach. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a close relationship with Bolsonaro during his previous time in office and endorsed him during his last election campaign which he lost to Lula da Silva.

During Bolsonaro's presidency, Netanyahu appointed Yossi Shelley, one of his close confidants, as ambassador to Brazil. Netanyahu has since returned to power at the head of an extreme right-wing government, and Shelley is serving as is the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office. 

De Fritas's removal as Brazil's ambassador to Israel is part of a larger shake-up in the South American country's diplomatic service, as Foreign Minister Viera also removed Brazil’s ambassador to the United States and the consul general to New York from their posts. 

Live Story

Hundreds of Bolsonaro's supporters stormed the Brazilian parliament and government offices in the capital Brasilia earlier this week. More than a thousand people have since been arrested. 

The attack was similar to the insurrection in Washington DC in January 2021, when supporters of former president Donald Trump - a close ally of Bolsonaro - stormed the US Capitol building to protest Trump’s loss in the presidential election.