Honduras hopes to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem by end of year

FILE PHOTO: Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks during a joint message with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Chad Wolf (not pictured), at the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera reuters_tickers
This content was published on September 21, 2020 - 00:30

By Maayan Lubell and Gustavo Palencia

JERUSALEM/TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras hopes to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by the end of 2020, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, a move likely to anger the Palestinians.

"To strengthen our strategic alliance, we spoke to arrange the opening of the embassies in Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem, respectively," Hernandez wrote on Twitter. "We hope to take this historic step before the end of the year, as long as the pandemic allows it."

The Central American nation has signalled in the past that it may move its embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu said the intention was to open and inaugurate their embassies before the end of the year. Israel currently has no embassy in Honduras but opened a diplomatic office there last month.

Only two countries - the United States and Guatemala - have already opened embassies in Jerusalem. The Honduran statement followed announcements by U.S. President Donald Trump and Netanyahu this month who said Kosovo and Serbia would also open embassies in Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem has been one of the thorniest issues in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as the capital of a future state. Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it annexed after the 1967 war, as its capital.

Last Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements in Washington to establish formal ties with Israel, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran but one that could leave the Palestinians further isolated.

Trump hosted the White House ceremony, capping a month when first the UAE and then Bahrain agreed to reverse decades of ill will without a resolution of Israel's dispute with the Palestinians.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell and Gustavo Palencia; Additional reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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