J'lem tells envoy to Honduras to remain at home

Foreign Ministry move comes after Central American country’s president announces support for Palestinian statehood bid at United Nations.

palestinian flag_311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)
palestinian flag_311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)
Showing that it is taking the vote on Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN in September quite seriously, Israel decided Thursday to keep its envoy to Honduras in Jerusalem for consultations to protest “deep disappointment” at Honduras’s recently announced decision to vote with the Palestinians at the UN.
Recalling an ambassador for consultations, or in this case keeping the ambassador here for a number of extra days, is one of the measures in the country’s diplomatic arsenal used from time to time to demonstrate displeasure.
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Another such measure is to summon the ambassador of a state to the Foreign Ministry to register a formal protest.
That step was taken Sunday, when deputy director-general for Latin America, Dorit Shavit, called Honduran envoy Jose Isaias Barahona Herrera to the Foreign Ministry to express Israel’s “surprise” and “disappointment,” and to ask for clarification.
This move followed a statement Honduran President Porfirio Lobo placed on his presidential website saying that Honduras would support the Palestinian bid at the UN.
Thursday’s decision to keep Israel’s ambassador Eliyahu Lopez in the country for consultations was taken even as the Honduran defense minister and the head of the country’s armed forces are in the country for a visit. The two countries have close military ties, with Israel in the past having provided the Honduran military with training and sophisticated arms.
Diplomatic officials acknowledged that keeping Lopez back for consultations – he is currently in the country on a “work visit” – is designed to show both Honduras and other countries perhaps considering similar moves that Israel was “very serious” about this matter, and not treating it as “just another” UN vote.
Lopez, based in Guatemala, is a non-resident ambassador to Honduras.
The diplomatic officials would not say whether Israel would take similar diplomatic steps against other countries intending to vote for the PA, or what further diplomatic sanctions Israel might use against Honduras.
“This is a clear message, through acceptable diplomatic channels, that we were surprised by Honduras,” one official said, adding that Israel has very friendly relations with Honduras and would have expected to be consulted by Lobo before he made such a decision.
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No reaction to the moves was forthcoming Thursday from the Honduran Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Honduras’s intention to vote for Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN places it alongside Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which have also said they would support the move.
The other Central American countries – Guatemala, Belize, Panama and El Salvador – have not given an indication they intended to follow in Honduras’s footsteps. Israel is also exerting a great deal of effort to keep Mexico, a country with considerable influence in Latin America, from voting for the motion in the UN.
All the South American countries, with the exception of Colombia, have already recognized a Palestinian state, although diplomatic officials said that did not necessarily mean that they would automatically vote for recognition at the UN.