Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel and Honduras recently held talks about the possibility of the Latin American country moving its embassy to Jerusalem, but the Honduran government still needs to make a decision, a senior diplomatic official said on Tuesday.
The comments come amid local reports in Honduras that senior officials have expressed a willingness in making the move.
“There is a negotiation, discussions with the Honduran authorities and for the moment no decision has been made,” the Guatemalan Prensa Libre news website quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon as saying. “These are still the first steps.”
Shortly after the US moved its embassy in May, Honduras was among the leading candidates – along with Guatemala and Paraguay – to follow the US lead and also move their delegations to Jerusalem
Both Guatemala and Paraguay made the move, though Paraguay has since moved its’ back to Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is still waiting for Honduras.
Along with Guatemala, Togo and four small Pacific island states, Honduras was one of only seven countries that voted along with the United States and Israel in December against a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the US for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
If it moves its embassy, Honduras expects Israel to reciprocate with its own changes, including upgrading the current Israeli consulate in Tegucigalpa to a full embassy – at a cost of an estimated $1 million annually, and deepening bilateral trade. The Hondurans also are interested in getting advice from Israeli experts on crime fighting, water management, agriculture and cyber issues.
Netanyahu may meet Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez next week in Brazil at the inauguration of president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has expressed his intention to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Hernandez was invited to Israel in April to take part in the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony as a representative of the 300,000 graduates from 140 countries who have taken part over the years in programs sponsored by Mashav, the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. In 1992 he graduated form a Mashav program for young leaders.
His invitation, however, immediately drew fire, with Meretz head Tamar Zandberg terming the invitation “scandalous” because it “legitimizes a president responsible for grave human rights violations in his country.” Following the criticism, Hernandez withdrew his participation in the ceremonyJTA contributed to this report.
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