ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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DR Congo will move its embassy to Jerusalem, leader tells Netanyahu at UN sidelines

Israel to open an embassy in Kinshasa, Israeli leader tells President Félix Tshisekedi in New York, 3 years after ties between nations were renewed

Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that the African country’s embassy in Israel will soon be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In return, Israel will open an embassy in Kinshasa, Netanyahu said alongside Tshisekedi after the two met in New York. The Israeli embassy was shuttered in 2003 amidst ongoing warfare in the country.

Hailing the meeting as “very productive,” Netanyahu said the mutual gestures “reflect our joint will to strengthen our relations.”

A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said that during the meeting, the leaders discussed collaborating on agriculture, trade, security and cyber warfare.

Tshisekedi said the two discussed cooperation in investments, security, cybersecurity and more. He described the talks with Netanyahu as “excellent” and expressed hope that “God will bless the ties” between the countries.

The Congolese leader appointed an ambassador to Israel in 2020 after a two-decade gap, and promised to open a commercial section in Jerusalem.

He then visited the Jewish state in 2021, telling President Isaac Herzog that his country wanted to “develop the best possible relations with Israel.”

President Isaac Herzog (right) meets with Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, October 27, 2021 (Haim Zach/GPO)

Tshisekedi, a deeply religious Christian, used his visit to Israel to tour biblical sites at the Sea of Galilee, including Capernaum.

Israel had a warm relationship with Mobutu Sese Seko, the US-allied dictator of the nation formerly known as Zaire, who in 1982 broke with most African states to restore relations with the Jewish state. Ties deteriorated during the fighting two decades ago.

Currently, the US, Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papua New Guinea have embassies in Jerusalem. Last month, Sierra Leone and Paraguay announced that they would move their embassies to the capital as well.

Hungary and Fiji are expected to announce embassy moves in the coming months as well.

Israel sees the moves as strengthening its claim to the city as its capital, though most foreign countries situate their embassies in or near Tel Aviv.

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