This past week has seen several countries reaching out to Israel to formalise ties, recognise Jerusalem as its capital and pledge to open diplomatic missions there.
Serbia announced its intention to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, whilst Kosovo and Israel agreed to fomalise ties, a move that seems to have come out of the blue considering that for over a decade Israel went against a Western trend and refused to recognise the Republic of Kosovo. You can read more on that here.
Israel’s Minister of Foreign affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, tweeted that Kosovo would also open an embassy in Jerusalem, a move that would make Kosovo – a Muslim majority country, the first ever Muslim state to open an embassy in Jerusalem. However, as is the case with politics, nothing is simple or straightforward and Serbia has come out saying that it won’t open an embassy in Jerusalem if Israel recognises Kosovo. Click here to read more on that.
Meanwhile in Africa, Lazarus Chakwera – President of the East African Christian country of Malawi, promised last weekend that his country would open its first ever diplomatic mission (some take this as meaning embassy) in Israel. Malawi has had formal relations with Israel since 1964, but neither country has opened an embassy in the other’s territory. If President Chakwera makes good on his promise, Malawi would become the first African country to do so, whether a diplomatic office or an embassy. Read more by clicking here.
And in what certainly appears to be another significant breakthrough in Israel’s relations with the Muslim world, a government official from Chad arrived in Israel and announced that his country would open a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem as early as next year. It could well be a race between Kosovo and Chad to become the first Muslim majority state to open a diplomatic mission or embassy in Jerusalem. Read more about Chad’s announcement here.
To date, of all the countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, just two have opened embassies in Jerusalem – the United States and the Central American country of Honduras.
However, in mid 2019, Romanian Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă, called Israel’s Ambassador to Bucharest, David Saranga, to reiterate her commitment to relocating her country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, following claims by a Palestinian envoy to Bucharest that a senior Romanian official had pledged to renege on plans for embassy move.
To date, no such move has been taken and there is dispute among senior members of Romania’s government over the issue of the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem. Among those who oppose the move is Klaus Iohannis, who as Romania’s president would be the official authorized to implement such a move.
At the time of writing, and notwithstanding the above-mentioned countries and their pledges, the Republic of Nauru in Micronesia, Guatemala and the Republic of Vanuatu join the United States and Honduras as countries that have formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Australia and Russia have both declared that they recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but both retain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
As the seat of Israel’s government and judiciary, the site of Judaism’s most holy sites and the focal point of Judaism’s religious practices, Jerusalem is logically and justifiably the capital of modern-day Israel and has only ever served as a capital city of the Jewish people in its millennia-old history. Nonetheless, recognising the obvious is always a good thing and we certainly welcome it and hope that more countries will follow suit in time.