Israel’s foreign minister ran into controversy on the first day of a Latin American trip when an official of Brazil’s ruling party reportedly called him a “fascist.”
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Valter Pomar, secretary of international relations for the Workers Party, said that Avigdor “Lieberman is a racist and a fascist” during an interview.
Haaretz reported that Pomar also said that “the Brazilian left is organizing protests” against Lieberman “and against the policy he represents.”
The left-leaning Workers Party has long been sharply critical of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, and Lieberman has advocated a tough line on Israel’s Arab minority.
He has suggested redrawing Israel’s borders to push areas with heavy concentrations of its Arab citizens outside the country and under Palestinian jurisdiction, while requiring those who remain to sign an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state. About 20 percent of Israel’s 7 million citizens are Arabs.
Lieberman’s 10-day trip is meant to battle growing Iranian influence in the region and to push trade. He was expected to meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — a founder of the Workers Party — yesterday.
Pomar was traveling and unavailable for comment, a party spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on the Haaretz report.
A spokeswoman for Silva said Pomar’s words “were just his own opinion and have nothing to do with the government. In fact, they were quite rude.”
She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.