Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Romania to move its embassy to Jerusalem when he met with Prime Minister Viorica Dancila in his office on Friday afternoon.
It’s a step the Romanian government has spoken about, but has taken no action on.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to see you again. The relations between Israel and Romania are fantastic. They will be made even stronger by your visit,” Netanyahu said as he shook hands with Dancila in Jerusalem. “I hope you will act to stop the bad resolutions against Israel in the European Union. And also, of course, to move your embassy and other embassies to Jerusalem. We wait for you in Jerusalem.”
The two heads of state discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation in various areas. They also spoke of Iran’s aggression in the region and its efforts to entrench itself militarily in Syria.
Netanyahu told Dancila that Israel, in its actions against terrorism, is defending not only itself but Europe as well.
Netanyahu and Dancila also met at the Craiova Group summit in November, where they discussed economic cooperation, the EU’s bias against Israel and Iran’s terror ambitions.
Dancila’s visit comes as Romania takes over the European Union’s presidency. The position rotates every six months.
Romania is perceived to be a strong ally of the Jewish state in the European Union. Israel hopes that Romania can use its position to defend Israel against EU actions, perceived to be anti-Israeli, particularly with respect to the issue of West Bank settlements.
Israel and Romania have had diplomatic ties since 1948. In April, the Romanian government approved a memorandum agreeing to move the embassy, which had Dancila’s support. But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who has final say in the matter, put a halt to the initiative.
Dancila spoke in favor of the relocation during an April visit to Israel. Such a move, however, would be contrary to EU foreign policy.
In the wake of the United States’ historic relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem in May, Israel and the Trump administration have campaigned for other countries to follow suit. To date, only Guatemala has relocated its embassy to Israel’s capital city.
Honduras and Brazil have spoken of relocating their embassies as well.
Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said on Friday the farm sector is worried that President Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to move the Brazilian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could hurt halal meat exports to Muslim countries.
“Of course the agricultural sector that I represent is worried,” Dias told Reuters, when asked about possible repercussions for trade with Arab countries if the embassy were to be moved. “Brazil cannot lose markets, we need to open new markets,” she said.