Netanyahu awarded Brazil’s highest honor for visiting dignitaries

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived to a warm welcome in Brazil on Friday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived in Brazil on Friday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, which takes place on Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon, Israel’s prime minister and Brazil’s president-elect held a private meeting in Rio de Janeiro followed by an expanded one that included Brazil’s foreign minister, defense minister and finance minister, among others.

Following the meeting, President-elect Bolsonaro awarded Prime Minister Netanyahu Brazil’s highest and most important national award for high-ranking guests, one that was previously granted to former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II.

Bolsonaro had been a staunch supporter of Israel throughout his campaign in a country with a growing Evangelical base. He has promised to move Brazil’s Embassy to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu invited Bolsonaro to visit Israel, and the president-elect accepted. They also agreed to tighten cooperation in a variety of fields.

“We think our cooperation can give both our peoples tremendous benefits in the economy, in employment, in security, in agriculture, in water, in industry, in every domain of human endeavor,” Netanyahu said at the meeting.

“Israel is the Promised Land; Brazil is the land of promise,” Netanyahu said at the meeting, noting that it was the first visit to Brazil by an Israeli prime minister.

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“Today we are forging a great alliance with a huge power of almost 250 million people, which is turning a new page with us,” Netanyahu said.

Bolsonaro’s election does appear to mark a turning point in Israel-Brazil relations. Although Brazil’s former president, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, was the first from that country to visit Israel in 2010, he was openly critical of the Jewish State, and during that visit he angered Israelis by laying a wreath at the grave of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.