Romanian PM rejects president’s call to resign over Israel embassy spat
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Romanian PM rejects president’s call to resign over Israel embassy spat

Viorica Dancila says ‘no reason’ to step down after President Iohannis accused her of withholding secret memo on moving mission to Jerusalem

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, left, stands next to Romania's President Klaus Iohannis after the swearing in of her cabinet, in Bucharest, Romania, Monday, January 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, left, stands next to Romania's President Klaus Iohannis after the swearing in of her cabinet, in Bucharest, Romania, Monday, January 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Friday “categorically” rejected calls to resign by President Klaus Iohannis amid a spat triggered by the possible move of the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Mrs. Dancila is not up to the job of prime minister of Romania and as a result the government is becoming a liability for Romania. That is why I am publicly calling for Mrs. Dancila’s resignation,” Iohannis said in a short statement.

Iohannis pointed to a secret memorandum adopted by the government last week with the aim of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He is opposed to the move and says he was not informed beforehand.

“This was a big error, because in foreign policy, if we’re talking about secret documents, the president should have been consulted,” Iohannis said.

Dancila, however, said she “categorically” rejected the president’s call for her to step down and told Romanian television there was “no reason to do so.”

She added that moves to have her leave her post “risk weakening Romania’s international standing.”

PM Netanyahu hosts Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilăs in Jerusalem, April 26, 2018 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

The spat over the embassy is the latest in a serious of clashes between Iohannis, who is from the center-right, and the left-wing government.

On a two-day visit to Israel this week following the surprise embassy announcement, Dancila said that at this stage she did not have “support of all parties as we would wish” to carry out the move.

The Israel Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the reports.

Earlier this week, the president of the Czech Republic announced a three-stage plan to relocate the country’s diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, starting next month with the appointment of an honorary consul in Jerusalem and concluding at an undetermined time with the relocation of the embassy.

Israeli politicians hailed Milos Zeman’s speech, despite the fact that as president, he has limited executive power. Acting Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is opposed to a full-fledged relocation of the embassy, saying he does not want to break with EU policy. It remained unclear if and when Prague’s missions would move to Jerusalem.

On December 6, 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, the US administration announced that it would open its Jerusalem embassy in May 2018 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Trump’s decision to move his country’s embassy, welcomed by Israel, has been condemned by many leaders and foreign ministers across the world, who have said the city’s status should be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem — captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War — as their capital.

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