Netanyahu to Leave Israel at End of December for Five Days to Attend Bolsonaro's Inauguration in Brazil

Prime minister, who also serves as defense minister and foreign minister is working to ensure embassy moves to Jerusalem despite pressure on president-elect. He is leaving at what he termed a 'sensitive security time'

Noa Landau
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem, December 12, 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem, December 12, 2018. Credit: AFP
Noa Landau

Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be away from Israel for almost a week at the end of the month, despite claiming the country is going through a "sensitive security time."

According to a statement by his office, Netanyahu will depart for the on December 27 and return on January 2, 2019.

Bolsonaro, the extreme right-winger who is supported by Brazil's influential evangelical lobby, will be sworn in on January 1 and has previously .

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He may however eventually only recognize the city as Israel's capital without moving the embassy or only recognize West Jerusalem, , due to in Brazil and the Arab world.

Netanyahu, it is assessed, wishes to use the visit to strengthen ties with Bolsonaro and to ensure the latter follows through with the embassy move.

So far, only the and moved their embassies to Jerusalem. Paraguay had done so but backtracked its decision, in a move that led to a .

Netanyahu in Israel in a bid to explain why he must keep the defense portfolio following 's resignation and in face of Education Minister 's demand to replace him.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said on Sunday that , as long as it is a temporary measure. Netanyahu vowed to assign a minister to the Foreign Ministry during January.

Furthermore, Netanyahu's office has justified additional time for completing the upgrade of , saying the radio and communication equipment installed in the current one are old and problematic. Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, would therefore be away at a sensitive time – with no adequate means of communication with officials in Israel.