AFP Photo: President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during his
visit to Arafat's grave, in Ramallah, Palestinian territories, March 17, 2010.
AP Photo: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, during her visit to Brasilia,
March 3rd, 2010.
BPNIC Briefing, March 2010 By Marina Passos
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited on Wednesday,
the grave of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in
2004, saying he was willing to talk with all parties,
including the Islamist movement Hamas, at the end of a
historic trip to the Palestinian territories.
He also inaugurated the "street of Brazil" in Ramallah (West
Bank), near the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority,
before a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"I am very happy the street of Brazil stands in front of the
mausoleum for Arafat, this demonstrates the affection the
Palestinian people feel for the people of Brazil," Lula said
during the ceremony, attended by Palestinian Prime Minister
Lula also said during a press conference with President
Abbas, that his country is willing to talk with Hamas, which
controls Gaza, to help the peace efforts.
"Brazil is willing to talk with everyone - all parties
must be heard"
"Brazil is willing to talk with everyone. All parties must
be heard," stated, in answering a question.
In early January, Brazil announced that it would
not rule out coming directly into contact with Hamas if it
could help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
United States and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist
movement and demand that it renounce violence and recognize
the Jewish state.
Lula reiterated Brazil's commitment to peace between
Israelis and Palestinians, saying that "Brazil will do
everything in its power" to ensure that this goal is
"Brazil has always advocated peace in the Middle East and
has never been involved," he said.
The Brazilian president also urged an end to Israeli
settlements in the occupied West Bank - which has given rise
to a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the United
States, last week - and an end to the blockade of Gaza
imposed by Israel since 2007.
Using a traditional 'keffiyeh' (Palestinian scarf) on
shoulders, Lula laid a wreath on the grave of Yassar Arafat,
before a gathering in the Muqata, the Palestinian
Authority headquarters in Ramallah.
The 'keffiyeh' covering the plaque with the name "Brazil
Street" was delivered by the mayor of Ramallah, Janet
Mikhail, who placed it on the shoulders of the Brazilian
In the afternoon, Lula traveled to Jordan, where he will
completed his regional tour.
Lula's first visit - of a Brazilian president - to Israel and
the Palestinian territories was marked by conspicuous to
boycott his address to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and
the official dinner by the Israeli Minister of Foreign
Affairs, the ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman.
According to local press, Lieberman wanted to express
his discontent because Lula did not visit the tomb of
Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism.
The Brazilian Palestinian National Interest Committee is
a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to work with the
legislative body of Brazil on legislation that strengthens the relationship
between Brazil and Palestinians.