Netanyahu urges Romania to move embassy to Jerusalem

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Romania and other EU countries on Friday to follow Washington’s lead and move their embassies to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu made the call during talks in Jerusalem with Romanian Prime Minister, Viorica Dancila, who took this month over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.

“I hope you will act to stop the bad resolutions against Israel in the EU, and also of course to move your embassy and other embassies to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told Dancila in comments relayed by the Israeli premier’s office. “We wait for you in Jerusalem.”

Last year the Romanian government, supported by the speaker of its parliament, adopted a draft proposal to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That came after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as capital of Israel in May and moved Washington’s embassy there, breaking with decades of diplomatic convention that the final status of the city should be the outcome of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who has frequently clashed with the government, opposed the Romanian move in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and called for Dancila’s resignation.

During a visit to Jerusalem in April 2018, Dancila said she favored moving the embassy but had insufficient domestic support to do so.

Guatemala was the first country to follow in America’s footsteps, and Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, has said his country will also move its embassy to Jerusalem.

In December, Australia recognized west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but said it would not shift its embassy from Tel Aviv until a peace settlement is signed.

The status of the city, holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews is one of the thorniest of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its “undivided” capital, while Palestinians view Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as theirs.