Netanyahu Flies to Latin America on Historic First Visit by Serving Israeli PM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed on Sunday night from Tel Aviv for a ten-day long visit to Latin America, a historic first by a sitting Israeli Prime Minister.
The visit comes as Netanyahu and his wife Sara face mounting domestic legal woes involving alleged corruption in the use of public funds. The trip will be an opportunity for Netanyahu, who is the subject of two separate corruption investigations, to showcase his policy of turning Israel into a global player – as evidenced by the commercial and trade opportunities opened up by his trips to countries in Asia and Africa, and the successful visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July.
Netanyahu will land in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, on Monday. While in Argentina, he will meet with President Mauricio Macri – who defeated his pro-Iranian predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in the 2015 presidential elections – as well as with President Horacio Cartes of Paraguay, who flies into the Argentine capital to see Netanyahu on Tuesday.
In Buenos Aires, Netanyahu will visit the sites of the 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing and the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing. More than 100 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in these atrocities, which were carried out by Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Netanyahu will pay tribute to the AMIA victims at a momentous time for the case, with evidence emerging of the collusion between Kirchner’s government and the Iranians in exonerating Tehran of responsibility for the attack, and the decision earlier this year to treat the January 2015 death of AMIA investigating prosecutor Alberto Nisman as a murder.
Netanyahu’s presence at the AMIA site will send “the message that the investigation is in the right course,” Leopoldo Martinez, the Latin America director of the Washington, DC-based Israel Allies Foundation, told The Algemeiner on Sunday.
“That means that Israel recognizes and welcomes the new steps in the investigation and clarification of the AMIA case and the assassination of Alberto Nisman,” Martinez said.
After visiting Argentina, Netanyahu travels on to Colombia, where he will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos, and Mexico, where he will meet with President Enrique Peńa Nieto. The Israeli leader will sign security, trade, communications and similar agreements in all three countries.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said that he would be “accompanied by a delegation of Israeli businesspeople from the fields of agriculture, water, communications and energy.”
“Members of the delegation will hold commercial meetings with their local counterparts; economic events will also be held in Argentina and Mexico, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Argentine and Mexican heads of state,” the statement said.
Netanyahu will also meet with local Jewish communities and leaders during his Latin America visit.
“Jewish communities from Latin America are excited with this historic visit, when the political spectrum is shifting from left to right,” Martinez said. “We are seeing this change in countries like Paraguay, Argentina and Peru.” Martinez pointed out that Nicaragua re-established relations with Israel in March 2017 and that the government in Honduras is also “close to Israel.”