Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro schedules April visit to Israel
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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro schedules April visit to Israel

Trip will take place shortly before Israeli elections, is evidence of warming ties between the two countries after years of tensions

Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro gestures at the National Congress in Brasilia before he is sworn in as Brazil's new president on January 1, 2019. (Nelson Almeida/AFP)
Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro gestures at the National Congress in Brasilia before he is sworn in as Brazil's new president on January 1, 2019. (Nelson Almeida/AFP)

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has scheduled a trip to Israel from March 31 to April 4, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The trip will take place shortly before the general election on April 9 and will be Bolsonaro’s first visit to Israel as president.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Bolsonaro to come to Israel during a visit to Brazil at the end of December.

“We will be starting a difficult government from January, but Brazil has potential,” Bolsonaro said at the time. “So that we can overcome obstacles, we need good allies, good friends, good brothers, like Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The warm feelings between the two leaders contrasted with the previous 16 years of tension between the two countries under Brazil’s left-wing governments.

Netanyahu’s trip was the first-ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to Brazil.

Bolsonaro, sometimes called the “Trump of the tropics” for a similar style to US President Donald Trump and rejection of multilateral diplomacy, emphasized the bond he wants to build with Netanyahu, a firm US ally.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) is welcomed by Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro at the Copacabana fort in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 28, 2018. (Leo Correa/Pool/AFP)

“More than partners, we will be brothers in the future, in economy, technology, all that can bring benefit to our two countries,” Bolsonaro said during the visit. He also spoke of cooperation in military and agriculture matters.

Netanyahu called the trip “historic” and spoke of “the brotherhood, the alliance” the two were planning as something that “can carry us to great heights.”

In January, Bolsonaro said he would move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and said the main objection to the move comes from Iran, not Arab countries.

Bolsonaro, speaking in an interview to SBT television in January said: “The decision is taken, it’s only a matter of when it will be implemented.”

Bolsonaro, a far-right former paratrooper intent on forging close ties with the US and Israel, signaled before taking office that he planned to follow Trump’s lead in moving Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem.

Also in January, Israel sent a 130-strong military and search-and-rescue team to Brazil to assist the rescuers working to find survivors after a dam collapsed around a mining operation in a rural area of the Minas Gerais state.

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