Palestinians rip Moldova for Jerusalem embassy move announcement

Senior PLO official labels declaration by Moldovan PM ‘an act of unreserved hostility against the Palestinian people’

In this photo from November 24, 2017, Moldova's Prime Minister Pavel Filip arrives for an EU Eastern Partnership summit with six eastern partner countries at the European Council in Brussels. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)
In this photo from November 24, 2017, Moldova's Prime Minister Pavel Filip arrives for an EU Eastern Partnership summit with six eastern partner countries at the European Council in Brussels. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday issued sharp criticism of Moldova after its government said it would move its embassy to Jerusalem.

In a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency, the PA’s foreign ministry accused Pavel Filip, one of two Moldovan politicians claiming to be prime minister, of having “implicated his country in a violation of international law and the UN Charter to keep rule in his hand or to win American and Israeli support.”

Filip said Tuesday that Moldova would become the first European country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the US and Guatemala. The promise came as the embattled politician has struggled to hold onto power amid a blistering leadership battle.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, said the embassy move announcement was “an act of unreserved hostility against the Palestinian people” by Moldova.

She also called on the European Union to take action against Moldova, which is not a member of the bloc, for breaking with its stance on Jerusalem.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on February 24, 2015. (WAFA/File)

“The European Union should halt Moldova’s political and economic integration until the latter rescinds its illegal and provocative action and realigns its policy with international law and the collective EU position regarding the Palestinian question,” Ashrawi was quoted saying by Wafa.

“States that choose to adopt such illegitimate and unilateral decisions are complicit in Israeli crimes and bear the political and legal consequences of such measures. They must be treated as the rogue states they are,” she added.

While a number of Jewish groups have praised Moldova over the decision, there has not yet been an official Israeli response.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his Moldovan counterpart Pavel Filip in Jerusalem on November 9, 2017. (Amos Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Filip’s announcement Tuesday of the embassy move came amid an escalating political crisis in the impoverished ex-Soviet nation that has pitted rival governments against each other.

After months of deadlock following February’s elections in which no party won a majority, the pro-Russian Socialist Party of President Igor Dodon made a surprise announcement over the weekend that it was forming a coalition government with ACUM, a pro-Europe party led by Maia Sandu, who also claims the mantle of prime minister.

But the former ruling Democratic Party, led by Filip and controlled by powerful oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, refused to concede defeat. One of the country’s richest men, Plahotniuc is widely seen as Moldova’s de facto leader.

Moldova’s President Igor Dodon delivers a brief statement, next to Parliament Speaker Zinaida Greceanii, after a meeting of the country’s Supreme Security Council in Chisinau, Moldova, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)

On Sunday, the Constitutional Court — regarded as under the control of Plahotniuc — dismissed Dodon as president, and appointed the outgoing Prime Minister Filip as his replacement. Filip immediately called for parliament to be dissolved and re-elected in snap elections, a move Dodon called unlawful.

Both the new coalition partners and Plahotniuc accuse the other side of usurping power.

Filip tied the decision, which would make Moldova the only European country with its embassy in Jerusalem, to the internal unrest and the sale of the land for the construction of a new American embassy in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital.

“We are in the situation to urgently adopt these decisions taking into account the political instability and uncertainty in the country, but also the latest political developments whereas one of the political parties that constantly blocked these two projects is attempting an illegal takeover of power,” the government wrote in a statement.

“These are two commitments that we have previously undertaken and we want to make sure they will be respected, regardless of what happens after the snap elections.”

The United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv last year. Israel has urged other countries to follow suit and while a number of states have pledged to do so, Guatemala is the only to have followed suit. Paraguay briefly moved its embassy to Jerusalem before reversing the decision months later.

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