Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro salutes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a synagogue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil December 28, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Brazil will move its embassy to Jerusalem, the question is one of “when,” not “if,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.
Netanyahu, on the third day of a six-day visit to Brazil to take part in the inauguration of Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, told representatives of Brazil 120,000-strong jewish community that Bolsonaro told him he would move the embassy.
Netanyahu quoted Bolsonaro as telling him on Friday, “‘I will move the embassy to Jerusalem. It’s not a question of if, just a question of when.’ President Trump said the same thing. He moved the embassy. And President Bolsonaro will move the embassy as well.”
On his way to meeting the representatives of the Jewish community, Netanyahu ignored
questions shouted in his direction about the new right-wing party formed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. He has not yet publicly commented on the matter.
Netanyahu said at the event that Bolsonaro accepted his invitation to come to Israel, and will visit before March. “I look forward to receiving him with the same spirit and the same brotherhood that he received me and that you are receiving us,” he said.
Bolsonaro rolled out the red carpet for Netanyahu upon his arrival on Friday, speaking of not only a friendship, but a “brotherhood” between the two countries. Nevertheless, in public comments Bolsonaro made alongside Netanyahu, he made no mention of moving the embassy.Netanyahu said
Sunday that he and Bolsonaro decided that over the next two months a number of Israeli delegations will visit Brazil to map out areas of cooperation in the fields of security, defense, agriculture, water and other industries.
“This is a partnership that has been meaning to happen, meant to happen, and we’re going to make it happen very fast,” he said.
Netanyahu said Brazil is very important in his eyes on its own, as well as within the greater context of Latin America. Rewording a line he has said numerous times in relation to the ties he has forged with Africa, and simply replacing the word “Africa” with “Latin America,” Netanyahu said that “Israel is coming to Latin America, and Latin America is coming to Israel. This is a revolution in our diplomatic relations.
Netanyahu noted that his wife Sara visited Guatemala earlier this month, and that in September 2017 he was the first Israeli prime minister to travel to Latin America when he visited Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.
He also made reference to his well publicized walk along Copacabana Beach on Saturday – a stroll which included kicking around a soccer ball and eating at a local restaurant with his wife Sara – saying that during his walk only one person shouted “Free Palestine,” while thousands others greeted them warmly.
Among those from the Jewish community who attended the meeting with Netanyahu was Yoni Stern, whose father was among those rescued by the IDF in the July 4, 1976 Entebbe raid. He was named after Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, who was killed in that raid.
Before meeting the Jewish representatives, Netanyahu met a group of prominent Brazilian journalists. No one asked any questions during that meeting about the political situation in Israel.
Netanyahu also met with leaders of Brazil’s large and influential Evangelical community, which had a large role in his election in October. Playing on Bolsonaro’s first name, Jair, which comes from the Hebrew name Yair, Netanyahu said the name means “He who brings light. And I think we now have an opportunity to bring a lot of light to the people of Brazil, and to the people of Israel. This is an alliance of brothers.”
In the evening he was scheduled to meet with the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández.
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