In his first notable foray into international politics as Israel’s newly-elected president, Reuven Rivlin has felt it necessary to apologize.
Not for anything he said or did, but for a remark made by Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. Following criticism by Brazil’s Foreign Ministry of what it called Israel’s disproportionate military response in Gaza, Palmor said that whatever the size of the country’s population and economy, Brazil acts like a “dwarf” in diplomacy.
Pulling itself up to full height, Brazil then instructed ambassador to Israel Henrique da Silvera Sardinha to return home for consultations.
Seeking to head off a serious rift, Rivlin on Monday telephoned Dilma Rouseff, the President of Brazil, to apologize for Palmor’s statement.
The apology was not disclosed to Israeli media until it was already publicized in Brazil. Only then did the president’s office issue a press release, The Jerusalem Post reported.
In what was described as “a long conversation” Rousseff congratulated Rivlin on his recent election and acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense, but did not back down on her country’s criticism of the severity of Israeli retaliation.
As for Palmor, the Brazilian president said that one has to be very careful about what one says because words can create a bad climate.