Jordan’s king cancels trip to Romania over PM’s embassy move pledge

Viorica Dancila told AIPAC she would move her country’s mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but president, who has final say, strongly opposes step

Jordan's King Abdullah II at the US Capitol in Washington, on March 13, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
Jordan's King Abdullah II at the US Capitol in Washington, on March 13, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday canceled a visit to Romania after its prime minister pledged to move her country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his office said.

The king “decided to cancel his visit to Romania, which was due to begin on Monday in solidarity with Jerusalem” following the announcement by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, a royal court statement said.

Dancila’s promise, made on Sunday at the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington, broke with the position of both the European Union and her own president.

“I, as prime minister of Romania, and the government that I run, will move our embassy to Jerusalem,” said Dancila, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Romania’s centrist President Klaus Iohannis, who has opposed the embassy transfer as a breach of international law and has final say on the issue, criticized Dancila.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă speaks at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2019. (Screen capture/AIPAC)

“Because of the amateurism of the prime minister, our relations with this region are damaged,” Iohannis said Monday, during a meeting with mayors from across Romania.

“Romania has built relations based on trust with the Arab world… Now the prime minister has managed to cripple it. And for what? For nothing,” Iohannis said, adding that King Abdullah took Dancila’s decision as a “personal affront.”

The move would align Romania with the United States, which moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year, sparking international criticism and Palestinian and Arab anger.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission also reacted on Monday by saying “the position of the European Union has not changed.” The EU supports the two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, both with Jerusalem as their capital.

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, New York, September 26, 2018. (Richard Drew/AP)

King Abdullah, whose country is the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, has repeatedly said that the question of Jerusalem is key to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The only way to do that, he has said, is by creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Last week, he called Jerusalem a “red line” for Jordan, while the kingdom’s parliament recommended that the government expel Israel’s ambassador in response to “Israeli aggression” at holy sites in the city.

Jordan is the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace deal with Israel. But the treaty is overwhelmingly opposed by Jordanians, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its eternal, indivisible capital, while the Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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