Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Hails Ties with Israel

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After meeting Bolsonaro privately, the two were joined by the Brazilian president's incoming foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo; incoming defense minister, Fernando Azevedo e Silva; incoming finance minister Paul Guedes; and Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo, who is also a Brazilian parliamentarian.

The Israeli prime minister will remain in Brazil for the inauguration, despite the recent dissolution of the Knesset and announcement regarding April 9 elections.

On Sunday, Netanyahu is scheduled to meet separately with leading Brazilian journalists, leaders of the Jewish community; leaders of the Evangelical community; and Honduras president Juan Orlando Hernandez.

According to the Israeli Embassy, Netanyahu will stay in Rio until Tuesday, when he will travel to Brasilia for the inauguration.

The visit by Netanyahu, Israel's first Prime Minister to visit Brazil, follows a November 1 tweet by Bolsonaro stating his intention to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem. The move angered several Arab states, which threatened to boycott halal meat from Brazil, the world's top exporter.

Brazil and Israel have previously had cordial but strained relations.

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The Secretary of Public Security in Brasilia told the Associated Press that they are expecting as many as 500,000 people to attend the ceremony.

Brazil's far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has said he will relax the country's restrictive gun laws to allow people with no criminal record to own a firearm.

Such a move by Bolsonaro would be a sharp shift in Brazilian foreign policy as it was for the United States when President Donald Trump relocated the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in May.

In a separate tweet, Bolsonaro added, "Israel is a technological superpower and that interests us".

The two also visited a synagogue among tight security including snipers on nearby roofs, where Netanyahu emphasized his hopes the two countries could operate in a more aligned and friendly manner in the future. The State Department said Thursday that Pompeo plans to meet with Netanyahu in Brasilia in what would be their first meeting since Trump announced that the USA would withdraw its military presence from Syria.

Describing his visit to Brazil as "historic", Netanyahu spoke of a "brotherhood" with the potential to "carry us to great heights", reports Efe. Brazil-Israel trade now amounts to $1.2 billion.