Romania will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila announced at the AIPAC summit in Washington on Sunday, in a controversial move that goes against the rest of the European Union.
Speaking at the Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) conference, Dancila said Romania intends to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which she referred to as Israel’s capital, in a move that follows the US’ controversial decision to do so last year.
.@VDancila_PM: "I am pleased to announce today, in front of this AIPAC audience…I as Prime Minster of Romania, and the government that I run, will move our embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel." #AIPAC2019
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) March 24, 2019
Most nations with diplomatic relations with Israel have their embassies in Tel Aviv, as, although Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, it is not recognized as such by the international community. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their future capital, and Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 war, when it annexed the area from the rest of the West Bank.
Dancila is currently president of the Council of the European Union and the move is a marked departure from the position held by the rest of the EU. Romania, along with Hungary and the Czech Republic, reportedly blocked an EU resolution objecting to the US embassy move, which said Jerusalem should be capital of both Israel and Palestine.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Dancila to move Romania’s embassy when she visited Israel in January. “I hope you will act to stop the bad resolutions against Israel in the European Union,” he said. “And also, of course, to move your embassy and other embassies to Jerusalem.”
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called for Dancila to resign last April after she pushed a secret memorandum to move the embassy without consulting him, and after she went on a state visit to Israel without consulting him. As president, Iohannis is in charge of foreign policy and has the final decision on such moves.
Speaking before another meeting between Romania and Israel in November, Netanyahu explained some of the reasons they enjoy good relations: “We cooperate in matters of security, anti-terror. Romania stands often with Israel in difficult diplomatic arenas and we appreciate this. We recognize our friends and we consider Romania a great friend.” Netanyahu also referred to their shared concerns about “radical Islam.”
The president of Honduras also told AIPAC it would open diplomatic representation in Jerusalem, and hinted that if AIPAC would lobby on behalf of his country, he would consider opening an embassy too, Haaretz reports. Brazil has also said it will consider moving its embassy. Guatemala is the only country apart from the US to have moved its embassy to Jerusalem so far.