Netanyahu planning unprecedented visit to Brazil for Bolsonaro inauguration

Netanyahu planning unprecedented visit to Brazil for Bolsonaro inauguration
2 min read
18 December, 2018
Netanyahu will become the first Israeli leader to visit Brazil, as he plans a five-day trip surrounding Jair Bolsonaro's inauguration.
Netanyahu has been vocal in his support for Brazilian far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro [Getty]
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has confirmed he will attend the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro at the end of December, as part of a five-day tour of the South American country signalling the two right-wing leaders' warming relations.

Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign and defence minister, will be the first Israeli leader to ever visit the South American country.

He is set depart for Rio de Janeiro on 27 December, where he will meet with local Jewish leaders and conduct the first bilateral meeting with Bolsonaro. He will then fly to the capital, Brasilia, for the president-elect's inauguration on 1 January, attending ceremonies at the Presidential Palace, the Foreign Ministry Palace, and at the National Congress, according to an official statement.

The trip comes despite Netanyahu claiming his country is going through a "sensitive security time", which makes clear his prioritisation of close links with the new hardline leader. Netanyahu was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Bolsonaro on his election victory in October.

Read more: Beef over Bibles: What's blocking Brazil's Jerusalem embassy move?

Netanyahu declared on Monday that under Bolsonaro, Brazil will undergo a  "revolution regarding relations with Israel".

He added that Brazil is "not just another state," but "a superpower," that will "completely change their relations with us, including on Jerusalem".

Bolsonaro has made loud overtures to Israel to please his evangelical Christian voter base, who believe all Jews should return to Israel. On top of vowing to move the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the former army captain has promised to close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia, claiming Palestine was "not a country".

As part of Netanyahu's far-right nationalist agenda, he has befriended likeminded leaders including Hungary's Victor Orban and Poland's Andrzej Duda, who have both implemented policies attempting to downplay their countries' roles in the Holocaust but support a strong and militaristic Israel against its Muslim neighbours. Netanyahu's detractors have since accused him of "anti-semitic Zionism".