Israel says 10 more countries in talks about moving embassies to Jerusalem
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Israel says 10 more countries in talks about moving embassies to Jerusalem

Honduras reportedly next in line after Guatemala announces relocation of mission; Togo, Paraguay, Romania and Slovakia also floated

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

Following Guatemala’s announcement Monday that it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, at least 10 other countries are in talks to move their own missions, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.

In an interview with Israel Radio, she declined to say which states Israel was speaking with, but Channel 10 reported that the next country likely to announce an embassy move was Honduras.

Israel and Honduras, which borders Guatemala, have enjoyed very close ties over the past few years, and in 2016 signed an agreement under which Israel agreed to enhance the the Central American country’s armed forces in an unprecedented way, in order to fight organized crime.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was reelected earlier this month in a hotly disputed election. He is a graduate of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, and spent time in Israel.

Along with Guatemala, Honduras was one of nine nations that voted “no” last week with the United States when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Unlike Guatemala, whose embassy was in Jerusalem from the 1950s until 1980, Honduras never had its embassy in Israel’s capital.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced at a Likud party event Monday that the parliamentary heads of two other countries had spoken to him about moving their embassies from Tel Aviv. The Walla news site reported that representatives from Romania and Slovakia had expressed support for such a move and were working in their respective countries to effect it.

Other countries also reportedly in talks to move their embassies are South America’s Paraguay and the west African nation of Togo.

Querido pueblo de Guatemala, hoy he conversado con el Primer Ministro de Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Hablamos de las…

Posted by Jimmy Morales on Sunday, 24 December 2017

Guatemala was the first nation to pledge to move its mission to Jerusalem after US Trump on December 6 recognized the city as Israel’s capital and instructed the State Department to prepare to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. The Czech republic has also since recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Russia recognized West Jerusalem in April.

In a December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, but condemned by most of the international community. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on his official Facebook account on Sunday that after talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he decided to instruct his foreign ministry to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We spoke about the excellent relations that we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the state of Israel,” Morales wrote. “One of the most important topics [of the conversation] was the return of the embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem. So I inform you that I have instructed the chancellor to initiate the respective coordination so that it may happen.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday hailed Guatemala’s decision, predicting that other countries would soon follow suit.

“God bless you, my friend, President Jimmy Morales. God bless both our countries, Israel and Guatemala,” he said at the weekly Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.

“I told you recently there would be other countries that will recognize Jerusalem and move their embassies,” Netanyahu said, after reading out Morales’s official announcement to Likud MKs and reporters. “I repeat: There will be more, this is just the beginning.”

Marissa Newman and AP contributed to this report.

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