Europeans said boycotting Foreign Ministry event celebrating new US embassy
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Europeans said boycotting Foreign Ministry event celebrating new US embassy

Ministry says it is unaware of any plans to skip ceremony after TV report says UK, French and German envoys likely to stay away in protest

A worker installs decorations of Israeli and US flags in front of the current US Consulate in Jerusalem where US officials will install the new US Embassy, on May 7, 2018. The embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is expected to occur on May 14. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
A worker installs decorations of Israeli and US flags in front of the current US Consulate in Jerusalem where US officials will install the new US Embassy, on May 7, 2018. The embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is expected to occur on May 14. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

European diplomats will reportedly skip a Foreign Ministry event next week marking the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem in protest of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inviting the entire foreign diplomatic corps to Sunday’s event, many European envoys, including those from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, will boycott the ceremony, Hadashot TV news reported Wednesday.

“It is a little strange to invite us to celebrate an event that we opposed and condemned. The Americans were more clever and knew in advance not to invite us to save themselves from embarrassment,” the network quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

The Foreign Ministry later said it was not aware of any decision to skip the event.

“At the moment 30 of 86 ambassadors have responded positively [to the invitation]. A large number of ambassadors have yet to respond. We hope all the ambassadors will arrive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

Nahshon did not say which countries are sending their ambassadors, though several European diplomats have told The Times of Israel that they are not planning to attend the event, lest they be seen as endorsing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem has Israel’s capital.

The Foreign Ministry ceremony will take place a day before the inauguration of the new US embassy, to which an embassy official said some 800 guests were invited to.

“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. 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 told The Times of Israel.

A new road sign indicating the way to the new US embassy in Jerusalem is seen on May 7, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

While few non-American or Israeli guests have been invited to the embassy opening, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Monday called on foreign dignitaries in Israel and around the world to stay away so as not to endorse what he called Washington’s “flagrant violations of international law.”

“As Washington pursues a policy of encouragement of international anarchy and disregard for organizations and international law, we call upon all diplomatic corps, civil society organizations and religious authorities to boycott the inauguration ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem, lest they lend legitimacy to an illegal decision and to continued Israeli policies of occupation, colonization and annexation,” Erekat said.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, speaks to journalists during a press conference after meeting with diplomats and foreign dignitaries, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 28, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the embassy there “is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Erekat’s statement went on.

“Those who attend the ceremony will thus be sending an ominous message, a message that they encourage flagrant violations of international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinians have adamantly rejected Trump’s policy on Jerusalem and have effectively avoided any contact with US officials since the decision.

Sunday’s Foreign Ministry event will also mark Guatemala’s opening of its embassy in the city next week and will be attended by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. Guatemala announced weeks after Trump it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, making it the second country to do so.

Paraguay on Wednesday confirmed it will also move its embassy to Jerusalem, after Nahshon said Monday that Paraguay President Horacio Cartes will travel to Israel later this month for the inauguration.

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