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Netanyahu congratulates new far-right, pro-Israel Brazilian president Bolsonaro

The far-right former army captain is ardently pro-Israel. [AP]

Date of publication: 31 October, 2018

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The far-right former army captain is ardently pro-Israel and in August vowed to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, while closing the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday hailed the election of controversial far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil.

"I spoke this evening with the president-elect of Brazil, @jairbolsonaro. I congratulated him on his victory," Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

"I told him I’m certain his election will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and a strengthening of Brazil-Israel ties. We are waiting for his visit to Israel!"

Earlier, the speaker of Israel's parliament Yuli Edelstein praised Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro election win, calling the far-right former army captain a "true friend of Israel".

A senior Israeli diplomatic source said that "Brazil will now be colored in blue and white" following Bolsonaro's victory, Haaretz reported.

Bolsonaro, 63, won 55 percent of the vote in a run-off election Sunday - more than 10 points ahead of leftist opponent Fernando Haddad.

The far-right president-elect has so far received cautious congratulations on his victory, with French President Emmanuel Macron urging him to "respect democratic principles."

The European Union will be expecting Bolsonaro to "work to consolidate democracy," EU spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said pointedly.

Human Rights Watch called on Brazil's judiciary and other institutions to "resist any attempt to undermine human rights, the rule of law and democracy under Jair Bolsonaro's government."

Ardently pro-Israel

US President Donald Trump and Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini were more effusive.

Trump tweeted that he had had an "excellent" phone call with Bolsonaro, and Salvini celebrated the fact that "in Brazil too, the people have chased out the left."

The far-right former army captain is ardently pro-Israel and in August vowed to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, while closing the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.

"Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here," he said. "You do not negotiate with terrorists."

Bolsonaro, who has widespread support from Brazil's evangelical Christians, has also said that his first visit as president would be to Israel.

The ultra-conservative president-elect has offended many in Brazil and beyond with his vitriolic rhetoric.

He once told a lawmaker he opposed that she "wasn't worth raping", has said he would rather see his sons die than come out as gay, and commented after visiting one black community that they "do nothing - they're so useless I doubt they can procreate".

Bolsonaro has also called for a "purge" of his political opponents, openly advocates torture, and once referred to Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship as a "glorious period".

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