RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed on Friday to establish a strategic partnership between the two countries.
“More than an association, we want to be brothers in the future, in areas such as economy and technology, and in everything that may bring benefits for the two countries,” Bolsonaro said in a brief statement after the meeting.
Describing his visit to Brazil as “historic,” Netanyahu spoke of a “brotherhood” with the potential to “carry us to great heights.”
The prime minister made the planned trip to Brazil for Bolsonaro’s Jan. 1 inauguration despite a political crisis back home that forced him to schedule early elections.
Netanyahu said he wanted to respond to the positive overtures from Bolsonaro, a right-winger who promised during his campaign to pursue closer ties with Israel and even spoke of moving the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States did back in May.
The leaders said that the talks initiated Friday will continue when Bolsonaro travels to Israel in 2019.
“I intend to visit Israel before March with a large delegation so that we can put into practice as quickly as possible this strategic partnership with the State of Israel,” Bolsonaro said.
The person tapped to serve as agriculture minister in the Bolsonaro administration acknowledged last month that the president-elect’s talk of moving the Brazilian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem had created concern among firms that export to the Arab world.
“I have received calls from people who are concerned. From exporters, industrialists, especially from the meat sector, which is a major exporter to the Arab market,” Tereza Cristina da Costa told reporters Nov. 8.
Brazil exported $13.5 billion worth of goods to Arab nations in 2017, according to official figures.