Netanyahu urges Romanian PM to move embassy to Jerusalem

PM asks Viorica Dancila, current holder of EU presidency, to stop anti-Israel resolutions at the bloc’s parliament and encourage other countries to move embassies too

Romanian Prime Minister Dancila (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem, January 18, 2019 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Romanian Prime Minister Dancila (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem, January 18, 2019 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday urged Romania and other EU countries to follow Washington’s lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu made the call during talks in Jerusalem with Viorica Dancila, the prime minister of Romania, which this month took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.

“I hope you will act to stop the bad resolutions against Israel in the EU, and also of course to move your embassy and other embassies to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told Dancila. “We wait for you in Jerusalem.”

Last year the Romanian government, supported by the speaker of its parliament, adopted a draft proposal to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That came after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as the capital of Israel in May and moved Washington’s embassy there, breaking with decades of diplomatic convention that the final status of the city should be the outcome of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who has frequently clashed with the government, opposed the Romanian move in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and called for Dancila’s resignation.

Benjamin Netanyahu (R) holds a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Jerusalem on March 7, 2016. Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

During a visit to Jerusalem in April 2018, Dancila said she favored moving the embassy but had insufficient domestic support to do so.

Guatemala was the first country to follow in America’s footsteps, and Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, has said his country will also move its embassy to Jerusalem. Paraguay briefly moved its embassy, but reversed the decision months later.

Australia in December recognized west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but said it would not shift its embassy from Tel Aviv until a peace settlement is signed.

Earlier this month, Israel and Honduras agreed to push ahead with a plan to open embassies in Jerusalem and Tegucigalpa.

Countries which have expressed interest in moving embassies have been met with denunciations by Arab and Muslim leaders and threats to downgrade ties or harm trade relations.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, but Palestinians see the eastern half of the city as the capital of their future state.

Most of the international community maintains that Jerusalem’s status should be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

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