New Brazil President Recants Vows Made to Jews on Mideast

Brazil’s new president, who was inaugurated on Thursday, seems to have retreated from assurances he made to Jewish leaders on his position toward the Middle East.

Fernando Collor de Mello hinted in his inaugural speech that his government would condition its policy on the Middle East on the country’s economic ties with the Arab world.

Collor, 40, was sworn in as the first Brazilian president elected by direct vote in 29 years.

In the speech he delivered just after taking the oath of office, Collor said his government would not jeopardize the economic ties that have developed with countries in that area, nor the ties of friendship developed through the descendants of Middle East countries who have settled in Brazil.

Arab immigrants and their descendants in Brazil number about 3 million. The number of Jews living here is variously estimated at between 80,000 and 120,000.

Collor said his country’s policy on peace in the Middle East would abide by the resolutions of the Security Council and propound a peaceful solution in the framework of the United Nations, through “recognition of the legitimate rights of all the peoples.”

In January, Collor assured leaders of the World Jewish Congress in New York that he would reconsider his country’s support for the 1975 U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism.

He told WJC President Edgar Bronfman that he was considering an initiative to revoke the anti-Zionist vote.

Collor asked Bronfman, a business leader, to help encourage American investments in his country.

Reliable sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here that Collor’s foreign minister had told a Brasilia journalist that this matter had no priority at all in his agenda. The minister, Francisco Rezek, is a descendant of Lebanese immigrants.

During the campaign, Collor angered some of his Jewish voters by bowing to Arab pressure and withdrawing from a previous statement that he would not permit the opening of a PLO office in Brasilia.

NEXT STORY