Israel in Talks With 'More Than 10 Countries' on Jerusalem Recognition,
By Noa Landau
Published Dec 25, 2017
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely says symbolic recognition of Jerusalem - not necessarily moving specific embassies - is at the center of ongoing talks ■ Israeli diplomats expect Honduras to be among the next countries to announce such a move
A view of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City, December 6, 2017. Oded Balilty/AP
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Monday told Israel's Kan Bet public radio that Israel is talking with more than 10 countries about potentially moving their respective embassies to Jerusalem following Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’s announcement that he would move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Hotovely told Haaretz that these discussions are initially focusing on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, rather than on immediately moving their respective embassies. On December 7, U.S. President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, adding that the U.S. embassy would be eventually be moved there from Tel Aviv.
Hotovely refused to identify the countries, but noted that several of the talks are just beginning, while others are further along. Foreign Ministry officials confirmed Hotovely’s statements, adding that these conversations are taking place “with more than 10 countries, but not many more.” Israeli diplomats estimated on Monday that Honduras is likely one of the next countries to take a similar step.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, December 12, 2017.Hadas Parush / Flash 90
Morales said on Sunday that Guatemala will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow Trump's lead, though he did not say exactly when this move would take place. Last week, Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States on the UN General Assembly resolution denouncing Trump's Jerusalem declaration. The other countries were Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.
Netanyahu thanked Morales when he spoke on Monday in Knesset. “I spoke yesterday with my friend the Guatemalan president, and thanked him for his support of us through his vote in the UN. I expressed my hope that he will follow President Trump’s footsteps and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and will begin the process of moving the embassy to there. That night he released an announcement that he would in fact do so. So I want to say, from here, to the president of Guatemala: May God bless you, my friend, and my God bless our countries. We are waiting for you here in jerusalem. I told you recently that there would be additional countries who would recognize Jerusalem and would notify of their embassies’ relocation to the city. So, here is the second country - and I will say it again: there will be more, this is just the beginning, and it’s important."
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi slammed Guatemala's move and "condemned it as an absurd provocation [and] violation of international law."
Guatemala is not the first country to express a desire to move its embassy to Jerusalem in the future. In the days following Trump’s announcement, Czech President Milos Zeman also announced that his country would move their embassy to Jerusalem. Zeman did not provide a date for the move.
“Even four years ago during my visit to Israel I said that I would consider moving our embassy to Jerusalem. Sooner or later, we will join the U.S.,” he said.
Shortly after, however, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the Czech foreign minister specifically promised not to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Mogherini said that the Czech foreign minister emphasized that his country will continue to strengthen its role in the EU, and that according to the EU, Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, as well as the future State of Palestine.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat met two weeks ago with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Barkat said the two spoke about the different options for the embassy’s location in Jerusalem. “We created a framework for us to think together about their options, and I ask that this stays discreet,” he said on Monday in an interview with Army Radio.
“We met and we’re beginning some sort of process. We’ll do this at their request, and alongside them.” Barkat also welcoming the decision by the Guatemalan president to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem. "This is the first step,” he added.
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