Rwanda mulls embassy move to Jerusalem

Only the United States and Guatemala currently have embassies in Jerusalem, with the remainder of 87 countries with embassies in Israel having located them in Tel Aviv and Herzliya.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel is seen meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the capital city Kigali. (photo credit: COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY)
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel is seen meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the capital city Kigali.
Rwanda told Israel that the relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was under consideration, the spokesperson for Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz) told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.
Hendel met Friday with the President Paul Kagame in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali.
“The minister made a request on behalf of Israel’s government to relocate the embassy,” Hendel’s office said.
“The president responded that the topic is on the agenda,” Hendel’s spokesperson said.
Kagame added that an embassy relocation “presents a challenge from them and that it would take time to find the appropriate moment.”
To date, only the United States and Guatemala have embassies in Jerusalem. The remaining 87 countries with embassies in Israel are located in the Tel Aviv and Herzliya area.
A small number of countries such as Brazil, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Serbia have promised to move their embassies to Jerusalem. Kosovo has promised to locate its first embassy in Israel in the capital.
The Trump administration has promoted the relocation of embassies to Jerusalem. Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s ties to Jerusalem. The United Kingdom two weeks ago published a travel advisory that spoke of Jerusalem as an entity separate from Israel.
US President-elect Joe Biden has promised to keep the US embassy in its current location. But it is unclear how many countries would relocate their embassies to Jerusalem once Trump leaves office in January.
Rwanda has been supportive of Israel at the United Nations. This month it was absent during a UN General Assembly Fourth Committee vote that spoke of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem only by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif.
Hendel arrived in Rwanda to sign an agreement to promote entrepreneurship in the fields of communications and technology.
Rwanda established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1962, severed them after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and then re-established them in 1994.
In 2015, Rwanda opened an embassy in Tel Aviv, and Israel opened an embassy in the landlocked, central African country in 2019.
As part of the strengthening ties, RwandAir launched direct flights to Israel last year, but then suspended them this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This month, Israir said it would start flying to Rwanda, with the first of those flights landing there on Thursday. Israel’s Ambassador to Rwanda Ron Adams tweeted a photo of the flight’s arrival in Israel with 80 Christian tourists.
During his meeting with Kagame in Kigali on Friday, Hendel spoke of strong Israeli-Rwandan ties, explaining that like Israel, Rwanda is a small country that had achieved economic success.
The minister lauded Kagame for transforming Rwanda into one of the leading nations in Africa.