Outgoing Paraguay leader wants to relocate embassy to Jerusalem

Horacio Cartes seeks move before the end of his term in mid-August, but Israeli officials are reportedly skeptical he can drum up support by then

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Paraguay President Horacio Cartes at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 19, 2016. (Emil Salman/Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Paraguay President Horacio Cartes at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 19, 2016. (Emil Salman/Pool)

The outgoing president of Paraguay on Thursday voiced support for relocating his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by mid-August.

Speaking at an event marking 70 years of Israeli independence, Horacio Cartes expressed his willingness to move Paraguay’s mission to Israel’s capital before the end of his term, according to the ABC Color newspaper.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

Diplomatic officials told Channel 10 they were skeptical the outgoing president has the political support to advance an embassy move in under four months.

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump bucked decades of US foreign policy by formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and launching the diplomatic process to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

In February of this year, the US administration announced that it would open its Jerusalem embassy in May 2018 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Freshly confirmed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reported to be set to head a 250-strong US delegation to the opening, which will include the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and likely also Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump.

Two days later, Guatemala will follow suit and inaugurate its new embassy at Jerusalem’s Malha Technological Park. President Jimmy Morales is set to attend that event.

Earlier this month, the parliament of Honduras passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the country’s embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Other countries have also stated they will relocate their embassies. The president of the Czech Republic on Wednesday announced the beginning of a process that will move the country’s diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though it remains unclear if and when Prague will actually open an embassy in the holy city. In private conversations, European and Israeli officials acknowledge that Milos Zeman’s announcement by no means prefaces the speedy relocation of the Czech embassy.

On Thursday, Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancilas and the head of the country’s Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea — both ardent proponents of the embassy move — were in Jerusalem for meetings with top government officials.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) hosts Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancilas in Jerusalem, April 26, 2018. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Netanyahu, in his meeting with Dăncilăs, “expressed appreciation for the Romanian government’s approval of a draft decision on initiating the transfer of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem and welcomed the statements of the president of the parliament in support of the move,” according to a readout his office provided.

The readout issued by Dancilas’ office spoke of “a framework launching the debate on relocating Romania’s embassy.”

But on Friday, Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis urged Dancilas to resign as prime minister over a secret memorandum adopted by the government last week with the aim of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying he is opposed to the move and was not informed beforehand.

AFP contributed to this report.


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