Netanyahu plans to become first sitting PM to visit Latin America
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Netanyahu plans to become first sitting PM to visit Latin America

PM scheduled to make stops in Argentina and Mexico before heading to New York to address UN General Assembly next month

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (L) in Jerusalem on November 29, 2016.  (Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (L) in Jerusalem on November 29, 2016. (Haim Zach / GPO)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Benjamin Netanyahu is planning trips to Argentina and Mexico in September that would make him the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America.

Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the region before flying directly to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19, according to The Jerusalem Post. He would return to Israel for Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 20.

“Latin America has always been friendly to Israel, but I think we’re at a position where these relationships can be far, far, far advanced,” Netanyahu told President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala last fall.

The Jerusalem Post noted the trip would coincide with the 70th anniversary of the UN partition plan vote, when 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries were among 33 states that cast ballots in its favor, paving the way for Israel’s independence.

Israeli ties with Argentina have improved considerably since Mauricio Macri won the presidency in 2015.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Brazilian Congress Speaker Eduardo Cunha, in Jerusalem, on June 03, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Brazilian Congress Speaker Eduardo Cunha, in Jerusalem, on June 03, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The trip to Mexico also sends the signal that its abstention in anti-Israel UNESCO votes last year, as well as friction over a tweet Netanyahu posted regarding the efficacy of a US-Mexico border wall advocated by President Donald Trump, are not hindering ties between the countries.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation and home to some 120,000 Jews, was left off the Netanyahu itinerary. Israel and Brazil tussled for a year over the former’s envoy choices.

“Political issues are internal problems, but if an Israeli prime minister comes to Brazil, he prefers that the government be stable because no delegation wants to present a project that after a month will change,” Yossi Shelley, Israel’s ambassador in Brasilia, told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper on Sunday.

Brazil is experiencing high levels of unemployment and social instability.

Shelley added that he believed the past two Brazilian presidents, Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, “were against the State of Israel.”

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