Netanyahu Touches Down in Brazil; PMO Source: He Was Deliberating Whether He Should Leave Israel After Election Announcement

Netanyahu is greeted by Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of the Brazilian president-elect with whom he is slated to meet during his state visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are greeted after landing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 28, 2018.
Avi Ohayon / GPO

RIO DE JANEIRO – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was deliberating whether he should fly abroad during the election campaign period, a source in the Prime Minister's Office told reporters en route to Brazil, where the premier landed Friday afternoon for a state visit that is slated to last until Wednesday. 

Eventually, Netanyahu made the decision to set out on the trip, and handed operational instructions to his team back in Israel. 

"The prime minister doesn't have a problem with dividing his attention," the source added.

Waiting to receive Netanyahu upon his arrival was the third son of the Brazilian president, Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is a lawyer, federal police officer and politician. 

Netanyahu set out for the visit with his wife Sara and his son Yair (whose travel and hospitality expenses are being paid for by the Netanyahu family, as they stated Thursday). He is slated to meet with President-elect Jair Bolsonaro later Friday, and is also expected to hold meetings with the heads of the Jewish community in Brazil. 

He is then scheduled to to depart for Brasilia to attend Bolsonaro's swearing-in ceremony and meet other guests, including the leaders of Chile and Honduras, as well as American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. 

Before setting out for Brazil Thursday, Netanyahu said that he will "meet with President-elect Bolsonaro and with his defense, finance and foreign ministers. We will discuss Israel's ties with the largest country in Latin America, the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population."

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Netanyahu called Brazil a "huge country with an enormous potential for the State of Israel, also in the financial field, the security field and the political field."

"This is a great change that Bolsonaro has declared, and I am glad that we can start a new era between Israel and this world power," the premier added.