Brazil has a new president who told an Israeli journalist during his campaign that a visit to the Jewish state would be his first diplomatic mission.
Congressman Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidency Sunday on promises to overhaul several aspects of Latin America’s largest nation, one of which was to foster closer relations with Israel.
He won just over 55 percent of the votes Sunday, compared to just under 45 percent for the rival Workers’ Party.
Bolsonaros’ supporters were seen reveling in the streets, many of them waving Israeli flags.
Considered pro-Israel, Bolsonaro has vowed to move the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and has said he will close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia. Inaugurated in 2016, the embassy is the Palestinians’ first diplomatic mission in the Western hemisphere.
“Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here,” Bolsonaro declared in August at the National Congress.
“You do not negotiate with terrorists,” he added.
Bolsonaro’s poll numbers jumped after he was stabbed during a campaign event on Sept. 6, after which he refused treatment at an Arab hospital in the country. He was unable to campaign or participate in debates as he underwent surgeries during a three-week hospital stay, but instead brought messages directly to voters via Facebook and Twitter.
He told an Israeli interviewer after the stabbing that a visit to the Jewish state would be his first diplomatic mission.