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Brazil: Judge rejects Bolsonaro's request for Israel travel

March 30, 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited the former far-right president of Brazil to visit Israel in May. Bolsonaro's rival and successor, Lula, has been barred from entering Israel.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touch the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on April 1, 2019
Bolsonaro was a major supporter of Israel while serving as Brazilian presidentImage: Menahem Kahana/UPI Photo/Newscom/picture alliance

Brazil's Supreme Court denied a request by former President Jair Bolsonaro for the return of his passport so he could travel to Israel, an official document revealed on Friday.

Bolsonaro's lawyers said in a statement on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had invited Bolsonaro to an event in May. The attorneys asked the Supreme Court to restore his passport earlier this week.

Bolsonaro's passport was seized in February amid a probe into his alleged attempted coup that came after  he lost the 2022 election to his rival and successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Supreme Court says 'absolutely premature' to return passport

"It is absolutely premature to remove the restriction imposed on the investigated person," Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes wrote in his decision, which was in line with a recommendation from the prosecutor general's office cited by Moraes.

Bolsonaro's passport was seized to prevent him from leaving the country, given "the danger to the development of criminal investigations and the possible application of criminal law," the prosecutor general's office said earlier in its opinion.

The attorneys submitted Bolsonaro's request to the Supreme Court on Monday, the same day a report by The New York Times showed that Bolsonaro had spent two nights last month at the Hungarian Embassy in Brasilia.

The report sparked widespread speculation from his opponents that the former president may have been attempting to evade arrest.

Lula barred from entering Israel

While far-right Bolsonaro remains a key ally of Netanyahu, leftist Brazilian leader Lula has been declared "persona non grata" by the Israeli government.

The fallout between Israel and the Brazilian leader intensified in February after Lula compared Israel's military campaign in Gaza, in retaliation for the Hamas terror attacks of October 7 in which some 1,200 people were killed, to the Holocaust.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by many governments, including Israel, Germany and the United States.

Lula accused Israel of "genocide" in Gaza and claimed its military campaign was akin to Adolf Hitler's extermination of an estimated 6 million Jews during the Second World War. According to the Hamas-led Health Ministry in Gaza, over 32,600 people have died in the Palestinian enclave since Hamas launched the October 7 attacks.

Netanyahu said Lula had crossed a "red ,line" and Israel declared that the Brazilian leader was not welcome there. 

rm/ab (AP, AFP)