Netanyahu could cut short unprecedented Brazil visit over politics at home


RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may cut short his historic five-day visit to Brazil due to political developments in his nation.

The Israeli and Brazilian media reported Tuesday on the possibility of a shortened trip more than a day after Israel’s ruling coalition agreed to dissolve the government and move to early elections.

Netanyahu’s visit centers on the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s new president on Jan. 1 in the country’s capital city, Brasilia. His presence at the ceremony is now uncertain due to the likely changes in the agenda, which have yet to be confirmed.

The visit – the first by a sitting Israeli prime minister to Brazil – is considered strategic because the leaders will discuss the details of transfering the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, one of Bolsonaro’s flagship promises during his campaign.

Netanyahu is scheduled to land Friday in Rio and will be the only foreign leader to meet with Bolsonaro before he is sworn in next week. The Israeli leader will then attend an afternoon service at a synagogue in Copacabana. He also is scheduled to meet evangelical Christian leaders on Sunday, when he will fly either to Brasilia or to Tel Aviv.

The trip marks the end of an era of strained ties between Brazil and the Jewish state.

“The visit will bring an important political message: a turnaround in Israel’s relations with the largest country in Latin America. We are turning Israel into a rising world power,” Netanyahu tweeted Sunday.

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