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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro .(Photo by: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
Netanyahu completes embrace of Bolsonaro
By HERB KEINON
01/07/2019
PM calls Brazil an ‘ally, says new president ‘different’ from his public image.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed his full embrace of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, saying the new president is “very impressive” and “different” from his public image.

Netanyahu steered clear,  as he did throughout his five-day visit to Brazil last week, of any reservations regarding the president’s controversial positions – opponents accuse him of an authoritarian streak – or disparaging comments Bolsonaro has made in the past about gays, women and minorities.

“We have a new ally and President Bolsonaro, who is now leading a huge country, intends to make it an even stronger power by economic and other reforms,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu quoted Bolsonaro as saying since he was inaugurated on Thursday, the decision to move Brazil’s capital to Jerusalem has already been made, and that the sole question now was one of timing. “It is the government and people of Israel who will decide what is the capital of Israel, period,” Netanyahu quoted Bolsonaro as saying.

He noted that Bolsonaro also said, “I want to be more than a friend of Prime Minister Netanyahu, I want to be his brother. I believe that other countries will respect Brazil more when it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Brazilians, and not just the president, now ”love”and “admire” Israel, Netanyahu maintained. “One needs to understand that the Brazilian people, the masses in Brazil, admire Israel and want to be close to us.”

Over much of the last two decades, Brazil was unstintingly pro-Palestinian and often among the most critical of Israel in international forums – a pattern set to change dramatically under Bolsonaro.

Netanyahu highlighted the importance of opening the huge Brazilian market to Israeli companies and products, something he said “will increase our national revenues.”

Beyond Brazil, Israeli exports are expected to surpass $110 billion when the final numbers from 2018 are counted, he said, a record year for Israeli exports. This is a figure that was reached despite well-publicized efforts to divest from, as well as boycott and sanction Israel.

The 2018 export figures, Netanyahu said are 8% higher than the 2017 numbers and reflect the “opening of new markets.” He said exports to China rose by 56%, and to India and Latin America by 27%.

Israel’s Ambassador to Brazil Yossi Shelley said in an interview over the weekend with  Empresa Brasil de Comunicação, the Brazilian public broadcasting corporation, that Netanyahu and Bolsonaro talked about public security, desalinization of sea water, satellites, and the surveillance of Brazil’s national borders, which stretch over 17,000 kilometers (10,560 miles).

Shelley said Israel anticipated that Bolsonaro will bring a large business delegation with him when he comes to visit in March, adding, “He will be given the honors of king – I can promise that.”
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