A senior member of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s ruling party branded Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as a "fascist," promising protests against his upcoming visit.
"Lieberman is a racist and a fascist," Valter Pomar, the Workers Party (PT)’s International Relations Secretary, told the Israeli Haaretz daily on Tuesday, July 21.
He vowed mass protests against Lieberman, due in Brazil in a few hours as part of a 10-day visit to South America, the first by an Israeli foreign minister in more than a decade.
"The Brazilian left is organizing protests against him and against the policy he represents."
Lieberman is to hold talks with Brazilian leaders before moving to Argentina, Peru and Colombia.
He will not go to Venezuela which severed diplomatic ties with Israel in January to protest its three-week war against the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 1,400 people, half of them women and children.
Lieberman, the leader of the far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party, is notorious for his extremist and anti-Arab stances.
A few hours after assuming his prestigious post in April, he said his government was not bound by the US-hosted Annapolis conference understandings on the creation of a Palestinian state.
He also rejected the internationally-backed roadmap peace plan and ruled out any pullout from the occupied Golan Heights to achieve peace with Syria.
Three weeks later, Lieberman described the Arab peace plan, drafted by Saudi Arabia and adopted by Arab leaders in 2002, as "dangerous" and "destructive."
The initiative offers Israel full normalization with all Arab countries in exchange for withdrawing from occupied Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands.
Lieberman has also called for "transferring" Israeli Arabs to a future Palestinian state.
Arabs, descendants of Palestinians who stayed after hundreds of thousands of compatriots fled or were driven from their homes by Zionist gangs in 1948, are estimated at 1.5 million or 20 percent of Israel’s 7.3 million population.
Though legally considered Israeli citizens, they face discrimination in jobs and education.
A spokesman for the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said Pomar’s remarks do not represent those of the government.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion," he told Haaretz.
A Jewish Brazilian group hoped Lieberman’s visit would polish Israel’s international image.
"Lieberman’s visit is a positive development," said Dr. Claudio Luiz Lottenberg, the leader of the Jewish community.
"We haven’t had state visits for a long time and a bad environment has been created," he noted.
"Now we need to restart relations with a fresh attitude."
Israel has been increasingly isolated since its 22-day war on Gaza, a sealed off coastal enclave of 1.6 million Palestinians.
The onslaught has strained its relations with many world countries, especially Venezuela and Bolivia who both expelled their Israeli ambassadors.
The war also triggered massive protests across the world in solidarity with Gaza as well as accusations of war crimes from international human rights groups.
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)