Ambassadors from Albania to Zambia to fete US embassy move

Ambassadors from Albania to Zambia to fete US embassy move

Foreign Ministry invited 86 envoys; 33 African, Latin American, European and a few Asian diplomats confirmed participation

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Workers prepare the stage for the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Workers prepare the stage for the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thirty-three ambassadors and chargés d’affaires confirmed their participation in the Foreign Ministry’s event Sunday evening to celebrate the US embassy’s relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Foreign Ministry had invited 86 foreign envoys to the reception, which will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a delegation of top US officials.

Twelve envoys hail from African countries: Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zambia and Tanzania.

Seven ambassadors from Latin America RSVP’d: Paraguay, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru and Panama. (Guatemala and Paraguay have announced they will relocate their own embassies to Jerusalem later this month.)

A number of Central and Eastern European countries are expected to be represented as well: Albania, Georgia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Serbia.

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania are members of the European Union, which adamantly rejects any change to the status quo regarding Jerusalem before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached. Serbia, Macedonia and Albania are EU candidate countries.

Austria is the only Western European nation slated to send its ambassador, Martin Weiss, to the event.

The remaining ambassadors hail from Asia: Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, will attend the event as well.

Notably absent from the list are some of Israel’s allies and staunchest friends, such as Canada, Australia and Germany. Other important countries with which Israel has good ties — such as China, Russia, Argentina and India — are also boycotting the event.

Most European countries have slammed US President Donald Trump’s move to relocate the embassy as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until its status is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.

The EU recently drafted a resolution that would have condemned Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv, but the measure was blocked by Prague, Bucharest and Budapest, according to Israel’s Channel 10 news.

On Saturday evening, the union’s delegation to Israel did not deny the report, stating that the “EU and its member states will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem… including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved.”

“The status of Jerusalem is a final status issue. The aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem 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 Ambassador to the United Nations João Vale de Almeida told The Security Council last month.

On Monday, the new US embassy will be officially inaugurated in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood.

Ambassador Friedman will preside over the dedication ceremony. US Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan, Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Adviser Ivanka Trump, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt will represent the US at the event.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, adjoining a possible site for the US Embassy (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other top Israeli officials are also scheduled to attend.

“Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Harry S Truman, became the first nation to recognize the State of Israel,” the US State Department said in a statement Saturday.

“Moving our Embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal; rather it is a necessary condition for it. We are not taking a position on final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, nor on the resolution of contested borders.”

Citing Trump’s December 6 speech, the statement said that “the historic opening of our embassy recognizes the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the seat of its government.”

The US Consulate General on Jerusalem’s Agron Street will continue to operate as an “independent mission with an unchanged mandate responsible for U.S. relations with the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority,” the statement went on.

Some 800 guests are expected to attend Monday’s embassy inauguration. “These include religious and business leaders, journalists, academics, and government representatives from the United States. We have also invited several Israeli government representatives and political leaders to attend,” a US embassy official told The Times of Israel last week.

“Given that the focus of the event is on US-Israeli relations, we did not extend an invitation to the foreign diplomatic corps,” the official added.

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