Foreign Minister Hotovely with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Meleșcanu in Bucharest.
(photo credit: CRISTIAN NISTOR)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely flew to Romania on Tuesday in what her office described as the first leg of a campaign to persuade countries to follow the US lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem.
Hotovely is slated to meet in Bucharest with Romania’s prime minister and foreign minister, as well as with the heads of both houses of the parliament.
In December, Liviu Dragnea, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, said that Romania – which has close relations with Israel – should “seriously consider” relocating its embassy
After Romania, Hotovely will fly to Prague and hold meetings with the top leadership there with the same purpose in mind.
The Czech Republic is arguably Israel’s strongest ally inside the European Union, and President Milos Zeman has said it should move the embassy, though Prime Minister Andrej Babis has denied there are any immediate plans to do so.
Romania and the Czech Republic were two of only six of the EU’s 28 countries to abstain at the UN General Assembly vote
in December that condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The rest of the EU countries voted for the resolution, none of them opposed it.
In late December, after Guatemala became the first – and so far only – country to announce it was following the US move
, Hotovely said Jerusalem was in contact with more than 10 countries that expressed interest in a similar move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeated this claim on a number of occasions since then, though neither he nor Hotovely have given the names of possible candidates.
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with the President of Guatemala, embassy to be moved in May, March 4, 2018 (GPO)
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Nevertheless, among the other countries mentioned from time to time as most likely to follow suit are Honduras, Paraguay, South Sudan and the Philippines. Paraguay and Honduras were reportedly willing to make the move on the condition that Netanyahu first visits their countries.
Netanyahu paid the first-ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister to Latin America when he went to Argentina, Colombia and Mexico last September. He has tentative plans for a trip to Brazil – and perhaps to other Latin American locations – later this year.
Hotovely’s office said the deputy foreign minister is also considering a trip to Latin America to lobby on behalf of the embassy move, though no locations or dates have yet been selected.