TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to be living it up during a state visit to Brazil, and was caught on camera dining in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana, being swamped by fans on a beach and even engaging in an impromptu round of soccer.
Netanyahu, who is the first Israeli prime minister to visit Brazil, described the South American country as a “superpower.”
“We are forming an alliance with a superpower that has close to a quarter of a billion civilians,” Netanyahu said. “This is another sign that Israel is a rising power in the world.”
On Friday, the Israeli premier sat down with Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
The two leaders spoke of a “brotherhood” between their two countries, with promises to strengthen economic, military and technological ties in the future. Conspicuously, however, there was no mention of Bolsonaro’s promise to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
According to an Israeli diplomatic source, the issue was raised in a closed-door meeting.
“It is a matter of time,” the source said of the move, according to the Jerusalem Post. The source added that it would likely pan out as it did with the U.S., with President Donald Trump making a formal declaration and moving the embassy several months later.
Bolsonaro’s embassy declaration prompted ire from Arab countries, with threats to boycott Brazil’s beef exports. Almost 20 percent of Brazil’s $5 billion in beef exports goes to 17 Arab countries.
The president-elect promised to make his own visit to Israel in the future, Netanyahu said.
The two met at a synagogue in Copacabana where the enthusiastic crowd greeted them with cheers and chants of “Bibi! Bibi!”
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) December 28, 2018
Netanyahu is set to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration in Brasilia on Tuesday. Until then, he took the time to relax with his wife Sara and a bucket of beer at Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana restaurant as well as meet fans on the beach.
— Raphael Ahren (@RaphaelAhren) December 29, 2018
“After a marathon of very successful state meetings in Brazil, we went out to meet the people on the street,” Netanyahu posted on Twitter. “Massive love for the State of Israel!”
The tweet was accompanied by a video of Netanyahu receiving a bear hug from a Brazilian woman on a beach, followed by the Israeli premier kicking a soccer ball with a shirtless man.
אחרי רצף פגישות מדיניות מוצלחות מאוד בברזיל, יצאנו לפגוש את העם ברחוב. אהבה אדירה למדינת ישראל! 🇱 🇷 pic.twitter.com/mqczK3FH9p
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 29, 2018