Brazil, in Dispute with Israel, Shows Limits of U.S. Diplomacy

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken confronted President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil on Wednesday about his recent sharp comments on Israel, including the Brazilian leader’s comparison of Israel’s attacks in Gaza to the Holocaust.

The sparring showed how the enduring war in Gaza has continued to expand into a broader diplomatic problem for the United States, and how the war’s mounting death toll has spurred more nations to speak out against Israel’s offensive.

An intensifying dispute between Brazil and Israel broke out this week over Mr. Lula’s comments on Sunday that the only comparison to Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza is “when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.” It was a significant escalation of his previous rhetoric.

Since then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said Mr. Lula “crossed a red line,” Israel’s foreign minister called Brazil’s ambassador to the Holocaust museum and scolded him in front of the media, and Israel’s official account on X said Mr. Lula “went full on Holocaust denier.”

Brazil responded by recalling its ambassador to Israel “for consultations” and, according to Brazilian news outlets, discussed expelling Israel’s ambassador to Brazil if the situation escalated further.

In a 90-minute meeting in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, Mr. Blinken had a “frank exchange” with Mr. Lula, saying that he disagreed with the Brazilian leader’s recent statements and that the United States was trying to get hostages held by Hamas freed and get extended humanitarian pauses enacted, according to a senior U.S. State Department official.

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