Countries to move embassies to Jerusalem after Trump's decision



Sat, 21 Apr 2018 - 05:25 GMT


Sat, 21 Apr 2018 - 05:25 GMT

© AFP | Japan will not move its embassy to Jerusalem, Jordan's state news agency has reported Foreign Minister Taro Kono as saying

© AFP | Japan will not move its embassy to Jerusalem, Jordan's state news agency has reported Foreign Minister Taro Kono as saying

CAIRO – 21 April 2018: Backing Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Guatemala, Honduras and Romania announced their willingness to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Though Trump’s decision was met with mass rejection and condemnation from all Arab and Muslim countries and most European and Western powers, these countries have chosen to follow the U.S.’s footsteps in defying Arabs, Muslims and the European Union.

Guatemala: Israel a ‘true friend’

Guatemala is the first country that followed the U.S.’s footsteps and announced its willingness to move its embassy to Jerusalem. “In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary; Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem,” Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said.

Guatemala decided to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem on May 16, only two days after the U.S. is scheduled to move its mission to the capital, the Jerusalem municipality announced.

Speaking at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the biggest pro-Israel conference in the United States, Morales said, "Under my instructions, two days after the United States moves its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem.”

Morales has stated the relocation of the embassy will go ahead as planned and will not be retracted, as Guatemala took the decision "because of the historic relations" between the two countries.

Israel’s foreign ministry has hailed the “true friendship” between Guatemala and Israel after announcing its decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Thank you Guatemala for your important decision to move your embassy to Jerusalem!” wrote Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon on Twitter. “Wonderful news and true friendship!!”

On the other hand, President Morales said on his official Facebook account that, after talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he took his decision to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren also praised Guatemala’s courage to take this decision.

“Viva Guatemala! It takes courage for a superpower to stand up for justice and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. But it takes even more – immense guts – for a small nation to do that,” Oren wrote on his official account on Twitter, adding, “People of Guatemala; the people of Israel will never forget your support and bravery.”

In 1959, Guatemala was the first country to open its embassy in Jerusalem, but later moved it to Tel Aviv following international rejection of Israeli claims to East Jerusalem.

Honduras: about to join U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Honduras was one of the few countries at the United Nations that supported the United States' decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, while most Arab and European countries voted against it.

Recently, Honduran lawmakers passed a measure that calls on the government to move the nation’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

While the resolution is legally non-binding, it is the latest sign the Central American nation may be on the verge of joining the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating its embassy, according to Israel’s national news website.

“Israel congratulates the National Congress of Honduras for passing with an overwhelming majority a resolution in favor of opening an embassy in Jerusalem,” the statement read.

A senior Israeli diplomatic source was quoted saying Honduras was ready “in principle” to move its embassy to Jerusalem, as long as Netanyahu first pays an official visit to Honduras.

Romania: split over Israel embassy

Romania’s government announced on Thursday its willingness to relocate the Romanian embassy to Jerusalem. Romania is the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem and the first European country to make such a move.

“Romania is moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move has already begun; a memorandum has been approved,” said Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

Dragnea told Romanian TV channel ANTENA 3 that the Romanian prime minister had ratified on Wednesday the memorandum to start the necessary procedures to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

The Cabinet’s spokesperson refused to comment on those remarks, according to France Press Agency, noting that the memorandum’s ratification took place without the signature of the Romanian foreign minister, who is on a tour in Tunisia.

Despite the fact that the relocation of the Romanian embassy to Jerusalem is “symbolic” to Romania, this decision is internationally deemed a defiance to all the countries and organizations that condemned the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. “This decision has a huge symbolic value for bilateral relations with Israel,” Dragnea stressed.

In a quick response to Romania’s decision, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said, “Such a step would constitute a violation of the rights of the Palestinians and would be contrary to international resolutions.”

After meeting with the Romanian representative, Hamdallah stressed that the transfer of the Romanian embassy would “further remove the chances for peace.”

A few hours after Trump’s controversial decision, the EU, which Romania joined in 2007, expressed serious concern over that move, saying it could cause repercussions for peace prospects.

"The aspirations of both parties must be fulfilled and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states," EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Romania has not announced the timeline of the embassy’s relocation, while the U.S. embassy is expected to open on May 14. Guatemala will open an embassy in Jerusalem on May 16.

Additional reporting by Nawal Sayed



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