Brazilian president will visit Israel next month - report

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF, REUTERS
March 14, 2019 05:48
1 minute read.
Brazilian president will visit Israel next month - report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro . (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)

 
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 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will visit Israel early next month, according to media reports.

The visit is expected to take place between March 31 and April 2.

Brazil is one of several countries that has been considering moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, sources close to the president sad that the visit will not include such an announcement, as the move is largely opposed by military officers in his cabinet.

A government official told Reuters on Wednesday that no decision has been taken on the embassy move, which could give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's standing a boost a week before Israel's elections.


"Something will have to be said about the embassy during the trip," said the official with knowledge of the matter but who spoke on condition of anonymity. He added, however, that a formal announcement might not be made during the March 31 to April 2 visit as the Israeli government had hoped for.


Visiting Brazil for the Jan. 1 presidential inauguration, Netanyahu said Bolsonaro told him that moving the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv was a matter of "when, not if."


But in an interview in February, Vice President Hamilton Mourao, a retired Army general, told Reuters that Bolsonaro’s plan to move the embassy was a bad idea because it would hurt Brazilian exports to Arab nations, including an estimated $5 billion in halal food sales.


The prospect of relocating the embassy - after President Donald Trump moved the U.S. mission - has worried Brazilian exporters who fear losing access to major Arab markets for halal meats, which comply with Muslim dietary rules.


Brazil is one of the world's top halal meat exporters, and Islamic nations Iran and Egypt are its third and fourth biggest beef buyers, according to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association.


Bolsonaro's economic team and the country's powerful farm lobby have advised against the move, which would break with Brazil's traditional stance of support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict.


During last year's election campaign Bolsonaro stated that Palestine is not a country and said he would close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.


Leaders of Brazil's fast-growing evangelical Christian churches have backed Bolsonaro's plan to move the embassy.

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