BRASILIA, Brasil - 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.
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.
He 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, "the president 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 on Monday started a new 72-hour ceasefire, as negotiators in Egypt worked to seek a permanent end to hostilities. The Brasilian president "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.