Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov during a meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, June 13, 2018..
(photo credit: ABIR SULTAN / REUTERS)
Bulgaria will, “as a first step,” open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem that will not only deal with Bulgarian interests in the capital, but throughout the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu made this announcement at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, saying he discussed the matter on Saturday night during a phone call with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who was in the country earlier this month.
“I told him this is a welcome step, which I very much hope will lead quickly to the opening of Bulgaria’s official and full embassy in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said.
Diplomatic sources, however, said that the move has little real significance. The Czech Republic made a similar move last month, naming businessman Dan Propper as its honorary consul in Jerusalem.
Bulgaria’s Embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv.
Following a cabinet meeting last Wednesday, the Bulgarian government issued a statement saying that it would upgrade the rank of honorary consul to Jerusalem to “General Honorary Consul” with jurisdiction for the whole country, not only southern Israel. For the last 11 years this position has been filled by Moni Leon Bar.
Bulgaria voted in the UN General Assembly in December to condemn the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. It was one of 22 EU countries that voted for that resolution, as opposed to only six EU countries – including the Czech Republic – that abstained.
During his visit here, Borissov – in an address to the American Jewish Committee Global Forum – referenced the Jerusalem issue, saying that Bulgaria is “convinced that the Jewish people’s relation to Jerusalem is indisputable,” and that his country is “not indifferent to the wish of the Jewish population of Israel and of world Jewry and to the right of Israel, being a sovereign state, to decide which city will be its capital and to insist that it be internationally recognized.”
At the same time, however, he made it clear that Bulgaria would not follow the lead of the US
, Guatemala and Paraguay and move its embassy to Jerusalem.
“The status of Jerusalem as the sacred site of the three monotheistic religions should be agreed [upon] in the course of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that will lead to an accord on the final status of the Palestinian territories,” he said at the time.
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