Romania may become the first European Union member state to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Officials in Bucharest said Thursday that the government has taken steps to advance the relocation, but the move needs to be formally confirmed by the Romanian cabinet. Sources in Jerusalem assess that there is a good chance that Romania may vote in favor of the move.
On Thursday evening the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, told the Antena 3 TV channel: “The decision has been taken… procedures [for the move] have started.”
Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, a Social Democrat, backed the move and while many other members of the ruling party appear in favor of relocating the Embassy, the final say on the matter lies with President Klaus Iohannis, a right-leaning independent.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who met with Dăncilă and other top Romanian officials in Bucharest last week to push for the Embassy relocation, seemed optimistic.
“I congratulate the speaker of the Romanian parliament on his announcement today to the media according to which Romania will commence the process of moving the Romanian embassy to Jerusalem,” she wrote on her Twitter account last Thursday. “This was the spirit of our meeting last week in Bucharest, and I hope to see the Romanian Embassy in Jerusalem soon.”
מברכת את יור הפרלמנט הרומני על הודעתו היום לתקשורת לפיה רומניה תחל בהליכים להעברת השגרירות הרומנית לירושלים. זו היתה רוח הפגישה בינינו בשבוע שעבר בבוקרשט, ואני מקווה לראות בקרוב את שגרירות רומניה בירושלים. pic.twitter.com/9Hk0oEnGL9
— Tzipi Hotovely (@TzipiHotovely) April 19, 2018
Next week, Hotovely is due in the Czech Republic, which reportedly is considering to move the Embassy as well.
Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry on Thursday evening did not comment on Romania’s move.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that at least six countries are “seriously” discussing with Israel relocating their embassies to Jerusalem.
So far, the US and Guatemala are the only two countries that have formally announced the move.
“Recognizing reality is the way you build peace. You cannot build peace on a foundation of lies because it crashes on the rocks of reality. It’s important to establish those principles that will ultimately guide peace: that Israel has a capital, that the Jewish people have had a capital for 3,000 years and that it’s called Jerusalem – is uncontestable. It’s time to recognize that fact,” Netanyahu said at at reception for the diplomatic corps at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
“I’ve decided that the first ten embassies to come here will get preferential treatment,” told the diplomats. “We’ll help you! All of you should do that.”
Romania abstained on a United Nations General Assembly Resolution that condemned the US administration’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the Embassy to the city.
The Romanian Foreign Ministry said the resolution — which was adopted with 128 “yes” votes, 9 “no” votes and 35 abstentions — “comes at a time when caution should be exercised.”
In a press release, the ministry said it was “rather necessary, at this stage, to re-launch the direct dialogue in order to unlock the peace process. Consequently, Romania has voted to “abstain” within the UNGA.”
At the time, Netanyahu called President Iohannis to thank him for the abstention.
AFP contributed to this report.