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Dominican Republic considering moving embassy to Jerusalem

Announcement by Caribbean country that it’s looking into move follows phone call between FM Ashkenazi and his Dominican counterpart

Illustrative: A man wears a Dominican flag on his way out of the subway station to march with the Green Movement in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, July 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
Illustrative: A man wears a Dominican flag on his way out of the subway station to march with the Green Movement in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, July 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

The Dominican Republic is looking into moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Caribbean country announced Friday.

In a statement, the Dominican foreign ministry touted the country’s longstanding ties with the Jewish people, noting Jews first began arriving on the island in the late 15th century. It also highlighted the Dominican Republic’s granting refuge to several thousand European Jews during World War II.

The Dominican Republic previously had its embassy in Jerusalem until 1980, which the statement said was a factor it was considering in whether to return its diplomatic mission in Israel to the capital.

The development came after Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke by phone with his Dominican counterpart Roberto Alvarez, according to Hebrew media reports.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, June 10, 2020. (Foreign Ministry/courtesy)

Moving an embassy to Jerusalem is highly contentious. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Most diplomatic missions in Israel are situated in or near Tel Aviv as countries try to maintain a neutral stance over the status of Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, March 21, 2019. (Jim Young/Pool photo via AP, File)

If it were to go through with the move, the Dominican Republic would be the third country to relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala.

Honduras has pledged to move its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of the year, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement last month.

Also in September, Serbia announced it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, and Muslim-majority Kosovo said it would recognize Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Kosovo would also move its embassy to Jerusalem, becoming the first Muslim-majority country to do so.

One day after the declarations by Serbia and Kosovo, the new president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, announced plans to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.

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