Brazil has opened a new trade mission to Israel in Jerusalem.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made the announcement during an official visit.
Welcoming the Brazilian premier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, noted, “Welcome to the Brazilian president and delegation. You represent a new hope for Brazil. Clearly this is the start of a wonderful new period in Brazil-Israel relations.”
Bolsonaro noted, “Brazil is a giant and rich country, that is why our two countries are close, religiously, culturally and democratically.”
His move follows on from US President Donald Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, followed by its Embassy move last May.
But there was no confirmation when Brazil would move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital.
Bolsonaro has hinted he will follow take up residence in Jerusalem but made no public comment on Embassy plans on this visit.
Senior Brazilian officials though more forthcoming, opposing a move, as it could harm trade with Arab countries including an estimated $5 billion in sales of halal food.
“Brazil decided to create an office in Jerusalem to promote trade, investment, technology and innovation as a part of its embassy in Israel,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Netanyahu however was positive, “I hope, and I would like to believe, that this (office) is the first step toward the opening of the Brazilian embassy in Jerusalem, when the time comes,” he told reporters.
And Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, a federal lawmaker, noted Trump’s administration took its time.
“We are on the right path,” he tweeted.
Netanyahu met Bolsonaro at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport where he told reporters the Brazilian leader would visit Judaism’s holy Western Wall in Jerusalem, our eternal capital.
“I love Israel,” Bolsonaro said in Hebrew at a ceremony.
Netanyahu visiting Brazil at the start of 2019 for Bolsonaro inauguration.
By Leah Waxler