April 2 ended the official visit of the President of Brazil to Israel. Many of the world’s media have already begun to ardently discuss new horizons for Brazilian-Israeli relations, which were outlined in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. What is the memory of Jair Bolsonaro on the Holy Land? What topics discussed between the two leaders will change the course of modern history?
On March 31, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (port. – Jair Messias Bolsonaro) flew to Israel for a three-day visit. Reputable international media have made their bets on the main topic on the agenda of the Brazilian president. It was expected that during this visit he would announce the impending transfer of the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since Bolsonaro had promised to change the address of his country’s diplomatic mission in the course of his election campaign. But later the Brazilian authorities decided to postpone the fulfillment of the promise. The representatives of the leadership of this Latin American country believe that such a bold step would entail economic consequences, moreover, such a decision could have a negative impact on relations with Arab states.
A few days before Bolsonaro’s visit to Israel, some representatives of the Brazilian media claimed that the president was pressured by the evangelical community, urging him to fulfill his promise to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem. On the other hand, the Brazilian business community demanded that Bolsonaro not transfer the embassy, fearing cancellation of contracts by Arab countries for the supply of halal meat, which does not violate the food bans of Islam. The volume of trade in halal meat is estimated at $ 5 billion. According to official data of the Brazilian Association of Beef Exporters, Israel is the second largest buyer of Brazilian beef, Iran is the third, and Egypt is the fourth largest. In the end, economists in the Bolsonaro team, as well as the powerful agricultural lobby of the Latin American state, opposed the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu) attended the inauguration ceremony of Jair Bolshonaro in late December last year. And then the president of Brazil told the Israeli Prime Minister that the transfer of the embassy remains only a matter of time. When he came to power, at the beginning of this year, Bolsonaro promised to open an embassy in Jerusalem, but the day before the official visit, he stated that he was still carefully studying this issue, and suggested the opening of a Brazilian trade mission in Jerusalem. However, the visit of Bolsonaro before the elections in Israel was certainly planned to increase the rating of Netanyahu.
Thus, the Brazilian president waited in Israel for a warm welcome. During the visit, the Brazilian leader made an official statement that Brazil will soon open a trade mission in Jerusalem, which will become part of the Brazilian diplomatic mission in Israel. According to the head of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ernest Araujo (port. – Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo), the office in Jerusalem intends to more actively promote trade, investment, technology and innovation as part of the Brazilian embassy in Israel. However, the topic of transferring the main diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv was no longer raised by the representatives of the Brazilian government.
It is worth noting that by now the United States and Guatemala have moved the embassies of their countries to Jerusalem. In turn, Paraguay also transferred its diplomatic mission to Jerusalem, but almost immediately returned it to Tel Aviv. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have already announced their intention to open trade offices and cultural centers in Jerusalem.
During the visit, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Bolsonaro his friend. The Israeli leader stressed that after taking office in January of this year, they managed to open a “new era in Brazilian-Israeli relations”. Netanyahu expressed his gratitude that after only three months, the first direction for an official visit outside of America was Israel.
On April 1, the leaders of the two countries went to Jerusalem, where they visited the Western Wall, and also the President Bolsonaro met with the Brazilian community in Israel. On April 2, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jair Bolsonaro became honored guests at an Israeli innovation exhibition. Within the framework of the extensive exposition, innovative developments of such Israeli companies in the fields of healthcare and agriculture as “TytoCare”, “SpacePharma”, “CropX” and “Agrowing” were presented. In addition, Netanyahu with Bolsonaro took part in the Israel-Brazil business forum.
During the three-day visit, the Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Brazilian President Bolsonaro signed bilateral agreements in the areas of security, internal security, civil aviation, science and technology, as well as memorandums of understanding in the field of health and cybersecurity. At meetings attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport Yisrael Katz, the Minister of Homeland Security Gilad Menashe Erdan, the Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis, the Minister of Energy Yuval Yuval Steinitz, the Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely and others. The Brazilian side, along with the President, was represented by: the Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernest Araujo, the Minister of Mines and Energy Albuquerque Jr. (port. – Almirante de Esquadra Bento Albuquerque), the Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications Marcos Pontes (port. – Marcos Cesar Pontes), the Minister of Intelligence and Strategy Augusto Heleno (port. – Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira) and others.
Following the official visit of Bolsonaro to Israel, a number of international observers noted that Brazilian-Israeli relations would be able to reach a qualitatively new level of cooperation. After all, the media has already leaked information that the Brazilian state-owned oil company “Petrobras” will take part in the latest Israeli tender for licenses for the right to extract offshore oil and gas. Such a statement by the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of Israel Yuval Steinitz coincided with a trip to the Holy Land of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Israel is ready to offer Brazil the latest technological developments in the areas of cybersecurity, national security and science. In turn, Brazil aims to strengthen its position in the Israeli food market.
However, after the visit, some representatives of the Latin American media launched a sharp criticism of the Brazilian leader, accusing him of not keeping his political promises and not following his actions. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Jair Bolsonaro and this time managed to demonstrate to the entire world community that despite his “far-right” orientation, he does not intend to take drastic steps. Whether the current president of Brazil can “balance” in the international arena and the most immediate events will show balanced decisions.