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Israel sorry for ‘diplomatic dwarf’ jibe

Brasilia- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin apologised on Monday to his Brazilian counterpart for a remark by a foreign ministry spokesman calling the Latin American powerhouse a “diplomatic dwarf.”

The comment in July was made by spokesman Yigal Palmor after Brazil criticised Israel's military campaign in Gaza as excessive and recalled its envoy in Tel Aviv.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech during a ceremony at the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Picture: POOL / RONEN ZVULUN. Credit: AFP

In a phone call on Monday, Rivlin assured Brazil President Dilma Rousseff that Palmor's comments “do not correspond to the sentiments of the population” of Israel, Rousseff's office said in a statement.

Rousseff had criticised Palmor's remarks, saying “Words, including the spokesman's, sometimes create a very bad climate. In this case, we have to be very careful.”

In the phone call, her office said, Rousseff “condemned the attacks on Israel” by Hamas, and “reiterated Brazil's historic position ... defending the co-existence between Israel and Palestine as sovereign, economically viable and, above all, safe states.”

Israel and Hamas Monday started a new 72-hour ceasefire, as negotiators in Egypt worked to seek a permanent end to hostilities.

Rousseff “expressed hope for the continuation of the ceasefire and the current negotiations,” the statement said.

More than a month of bloody fighting in and around Gaza has killed at least 1 940 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers. - Sapa-AFP

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