Netanyahu Touches Down in Argentina for 'Historic' Latin America Visit

In first regional visit for an Israeli leader, Netanyahu is scheduled to discuss past terror attacks against Argentinian Jews, world's 7th largest Jewish community

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara receiving a welcome upon their arrival in Argentina on September 11, 2017.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara receiving a welcome upon their arrival in Argentina on September 11, 2017. Roberto Daniel Garagiola/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Argentina on a visit seeking to strengthen ties with the country harboring Latin America's largest Jewish community, leaving just as police investigations against him intensify and days after Israel's attorney general announced plans to indict the prime minister’s wife Sara with fraud.

Netanyahu arrived Monday, marking the first visit to Latin America by an Israeli leader since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. He is also scheduled to visit Colombia and Mexico before going to New York, where he will address the UN General Assembly on September 26.

Netanyahu is expected to meet with President Mauricio Macri on Tuesday and press for answers on two unsolved terror attacks in Argentina.

"We are leaving now on a historic visit," Netanyahu said as he departed.

The visit signals a significant change in relations between the two countries that has been underway since President Macri replaced Cristina de Kirchner, who maintained a cold policy toward Israel while tightening relations with Iran.

Netanyahu and Macri are expected to sign a series of cooperative agreements in the realms of domestic security, customs, social insurance and Holocaust archives.

While in Buenos Aires Netanyahu will attend a ceremony at the square of the Israeli Embassy, where a terror bombing killed 29 people in 1992.

Netanyahu will also visit the Association Mutual Israelita Argentina building, which was attacked in 1994, killing 85 people, and where he will meet relatives of the casualties. Israel and Argentina have long accused Iran and Hezbollah of being behind the bombings. 

During his visit to Buenos Aires, Netanyahu is also slated to meet Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, who is coming to Argentina especially for the meeting. Several Netanyahu associates, some of whom served as his advisers over the years, have been advising Cartes since he assumed his post in 2013. This helped the two countries develop closer ties, leading Israel to open an embassy in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital.

From Argentina Netanyahu will continue on Wednesday for a short visit to Bogota, where he will meet Colombian President Manuel Santos.