1. Business
  2. Politics and policy
April 20, 2018updated 23 Apr 2018 9:51am

Romania seeks to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

By Rachel Dobbs

Romania looks set to join the US and Guatemala in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrat party has said the government has approved a memorandum detailing the move.

And Romania is not alone. On Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “at least half a dozen” countries were considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

This echoes sentiments made by deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely in December. She said that as many as ten countries were in touch with the Israeli Government about agency transfers.

The Israeli Government has not yet confirmed which countries they are referring to. However, media reports have suggested that the Philippines, South Sudan, Honduras and the Czech Republic are all contemplating the move.

Two countries have already confirmed that their embassies will relocate to Jerusalem. The first was the US, after President Donald Trump announced in early December that the country would formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A controversial move, this statement overturned seven decades of US foreign policy towards Israel. It was announced in February that the new US embassy would open on 14 May.

Read more: Here’s how Trump moving the US Israel embassy to Jerusalem will affect the region’s tourism industry

Trump’s decision in December triggered a United Nations vote on the matter. Two-thirds of UN member states voted for a resolution rejecting the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declared that the city’s status could only be decided via negotiations.

All nations understood to now be considering the move either voted against the resolution or abstained. One of the states that voted against the resolution was Guatemala, which became the second country to finalise the movement of its embassy. Guatemala’s new embassy will open in Jerusalem on 16 May.

Romania’s plans are not yet as clear-cut as those of the US or Guatemala. Despite government approval, the final decision to move the embassy belongs to centrist President Klaus Iohannis due to Romanian legislation. Currently, Iohannis has not confirmed that the embassy will relocate, and says he was not consulted on the government’s memorandum.

In a statement this morning, Iohannis said that all politicians should show “responsibility and discernment regarding major foreign policy decisions that have strategic effects including on national security”.

However, the head of the Social Democrats Liviu Dragnea, who effectively controls Romania’s cabinet, said late last night:

Our gesture has a huge symbolic value … for Israel, a state with an unbelievably large influence in the world and with which we have had a special relationship for many years.

Topics in this article: