Jair Bolsanaro, often referred to as the Brazilian Trump, landed in Israel on Sunday for a four-day visit in reciprocation of Netanyahu visiting his country several months ago. The visit comes ten days before Israeli national elections. Along with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Netanyahu was one of the few leaders of a Westernized country to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration in December.
Four days after his election, Bolsonaro tweeted his intention to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem. That promise has yet to be realized and internal politics may prevent him from fulfilling it. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef that meets the Muslim Halal standard. The agricultural sector in Brazil is pressuring the new president to refrain from angering the Arab world. On the other hand, his country’s significant evangelical Christian population is pressuring him to move the embassy.
The election of Bolsonaro was seen as a good sign for future relations between Brazil and Israel. The last Brazilian leader to visit Israel was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2010. Da Silva took the opportunity to lay a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat, former president of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, but refused to visit the tomb of Theodor Herzl, considered to be the founder of modern Zionism. In contrast, Bolsonaro is not scheduled to meet with any Palestinian leaders on this visit.
Bolsonaro is also seen as a powerful advocate for improved relations with the U.S.