Uncertainty over embassy move clouds Brazilian president's visit

Bolsonaro, who is making his first visit to Israel as president, is under pressure from the Evangelical community to make good on his embassy pledge.

March 31, 2019 01:24
1 minute read.
Uncertainty over embassy move clouds Brazilian president's visit

Rolling out the red carpet ahead of the Sunday visit of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)


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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to land in Israel on Sunday, but as of Saturday night it was unclear if during his four-day trip he planned to commit to relocating his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.

Earlier this year, Bolsonaro pledged to open a Jerusalem embassy, and on Wednesday said he was still studying the matter.
One day later, he spoke of the possibility of opening a business office in Jerusalem instead.

Bolsonaro, who is making his first visit to Israel as president, is under pressure from the Evangelical community to make good on his embassy pledge.

His country’s powerful agriculture sector is opposed to moving the embassy from Tel Aviv and angering Arab nations that buy billions of dollars worth of Brazilian halal meat each year.

Bolsonaro’s visit, which comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in the White House earlier this month, is part of the diplomatic blitz he has embarked on in the run up to the April 9 election.

Netanyahu plans to meet Bolsonaro at the airport, where the two leaders are expected to issue speeches. In anticipation of rain, the Defense Ministry has set up 1,500 sq.m. of tents so that the welcoming festivities can take place. A 58-meter red carpet has also been rolled out.

Bolsonaro will meet Netanyahu in the evening at his Jerusalem office and after at his home for dinner.

The Brazilian president will visit Yad Vashem and the IDF’s Home Front Command so he can grant an award to its rescue delegation, which assisted the Brazilians earlier this year after the collapse of a major dam there.

Along with Netanyahu, Bolsonaro will also attend the “Israel-Brazil Innovation Summit,” which will bring together leading Brazilian and Israeli businesspeople.

Brazil is Israel’s largest Latin American trading partner and the trip is expected to expand those ties.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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