Honduran National Congress urges embassy relocation to Jerusalem

Motion approved by lawmakers exhorts Foreign Ministry to move mission from Tel Aviv; comes after leader cancels Israel visit for Independence Day ceremony

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) meets with Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez in Jerusalem, on October 29, 2015. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) meets with Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez in Jerusalem, on October 29, 2015. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

The Honduran National Congress on Thursday backed a resolution calling for its embassy in Israel to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Citing warm ties with Israel, the non-binding motion calls on the Central American nation’s foreign ministry to move the Honduran mission to the capital, according to a statement. Any decision to move the embassy rests with the executive branch.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry hailed the vote, with a spokesperson saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would soon speak to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

In February, Honduras was one of only eight countries that opposed a UN General Assembly resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, along with Guatemala, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

Guatemala has since announced it will relocate its embassy to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the US is scheduled to move its mission to the capital, the Jerusalem municipality said Wednesday.

A senior Israeli diplomatic source was quoted last month by Army Radio as saying Honduras was ready “in principle” to move its embassy to Jerusalem, provided that Netanyahu first makes an official visit to Honduras.

The congressional resolution came several days after Hernandez canceled his participation in Israel’s gala 70th Independence Day celebrations next week, following criticism — led by an opposition Knesset member and based on his country’s human rights record — of the decision to have him light a ceremonial torch.

“Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández will not attend Israel’s 70th-anniversary festivities, as originally planned,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Foreign Ministry regrets his not coming and welcomes the friendship between the two countries.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev announced last week that Hernandez would be the first foreign leader to take part in the annual torch-lighting ceremony, to be held in Jerusalem on April 18, alongside parades, dancing, music and fireworks.

Hernandez’s involvement in the ceremony was criticized by many, including Meretz party head Tamar Zandberg who said that the Central American nation was a corrupt human rights violator and that having him at the ceremony would dishonor Israel.

Hernandez began his diplomatic career in 1992 in an Israeli Foreign Ministry Mashav (Agency for International Development Cooperation) course.


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