New Brazilian Leader Believes Country Will Gain Respect ‘When It Recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel’

PM Netanyahu and Brazilian President-elect Bolsonaro. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (Israeli GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left his recent visit to Brazil with a promise from new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that his country would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since then, that commitment has only grown stronger. Netanyahu, in comments to the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, quoted Bolsonaro after the visit from the Israeli leader as saying, “’I want to be more than a friend of Prime Minister Netanyahu, I want to be his brother. I believe that other countries will respect Brazil more when it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Netanyahu, whose comments were published by his office, did not clarify where he heard or read the comments from Bolsonaro, although the sentiment is similar to comments made during Netanyahu’s visit. On Sunday, Netanyahu said, “We have a new ally here and whoever needs additional proof of Israel’s rising status in the world simply needs to look at what is happening in Brazil. They love us and admire Israel.”

The Israeli premier clarified that that love isn’t just coming from the newly elected President Bolsonaro. “One needs to understand that the Brazilian people, the masses in Brazil, admire Israel and want to be close to us. Therefore, we have opened a very large market here and there is much more work that needs to be done,” he said.

“We will discuss joint delegations with them and we will open this huge market to Israeli companies, which will increase our national revenues.”

Netanyahu was in Brazil around the New Year as the first ever Israeli prime minister to visit the South American nation and stayed for the inauguration of Bolsonaro. The Brazilian president was quoted by Netanyahu during the visit as saying that moving the country’s embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was “not a question of if, just a question of when.” In comments released by Netanyahu’s office at the time, he also referenced being called a “brother” by Bolsonaro.

In 2018, the United States moved their embassy to Jerusalem in a dramatic move that has rippled around the globe. Other nations, including Guatemala, have since moved their embassies as well. Still others are talking about the prospect of moving the embassy.

In December, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country formally recognized so-called “West Jerusalem”—where the Israeli parliament and other government institutions sit—as Israel’s capital. In comments on December 15 published to his office’s website , Morrison said they were working on finding a location for an embassy in Jerusalem, which would be established “when practical, in support of, and after final status determination” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Despite concerns that the embassy moves would result in major unrest in the Arab world or a surge in terrorism, that threat never fully materialized. Instead, the number of nations with their embassies in Israel’s capital has only grown, and apparently will continue to do so.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, January 6, 2019)

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