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Ukraine to open diplomatic mission in Jerusalem focused on tech

Foreign Minister Katz hails Kyiv’s move as an ‘important accomplishment in strengthening and promoting’ Israel’s capital

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a joint press conference in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, on August 19, 2019. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a joint press conference in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, on August 19, 2019. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

Ukraine has informed Israel it will officially open a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem focused on innovation and investment, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The plan for the high-tech office was first announced in an August visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when the Israeli premier announced the Jewish state would also open a similar mission in Kyiv.

“This is an important accomplishment in strengthening and promoting Jerusalem’s status in the world,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Katz said the office would have the status of a diplomatic mission and be part of Ukraine’s embassy in Tel Aviv. He praised Ukraine for the move, hailing it as a sign of the “strong diplomatic ties” between the countries.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, June 24, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

“I instructed the management of the ministry to deal with immediately implementing the decision,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry statement did not specify when the Ukrainian office will open nor make any mention of the planned Israeli facility in Kyiv.

At the time of his Ukraine trip, Netanyahu said the Ukrainian office in Jerusalem would “strengthen Israel’s diplomatic and technological ties” with the Eastern European country. “I won’t lie to you and say that we don’t want Ukraine to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem in the future,” he said.

Israel has pushed for countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Jerusalem’s capital, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to do so in December 2017.

So far, Guatemala is the only other country to have moved its embassy to Jerusalem. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Australia have trade offices in the city, with varying diplomatic status. Slovakia and Brazil have pledged to open similar missions in Jerusalem as well.

Honduras last month opened a trade mission in Jerusalem with diplomatic status, a move the country’s president said was a “first step” toward moving the embassy to the city.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening of a Honduran trade office in Jerusalem, on September 1, 2019. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Moving an embassy to Jerusalem is highly contentious. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Most diplomatic missions in Israel are situated in or near Tel Aviv as countries try to maintain a neutral stance over the status of Jerusalem.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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