Wednesday, June 12, 2019

How big a deal is the Moldova opening up an embassy in Jerusalem?

From JTA:
Moldova will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, the government of the small Eastern European country said Tuesday.

The announcement followed fallout from a constitutional crisis and power struggle that ended last week with a constitutional court’s suspension of the country’s elected president, Igor Dodon.

The statement tied the decision, which would make Moldova the only European country with its embassy in Jerusalem, to internal unrest and the sale of the land for the construction of a new American embassy in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital.

“We are in the situation to urgently adopt these decisions taking into account the political instability and uncertainty in the country, but also the latest political developments whereas one of the political parties that constantly blocked these two projects is attempting an illegal takeover of power,” the government under its acting prime minister, Pavel Filip, wrote in the statement.

“These are two commitments that we have previously undertaken and we want to make sure they will be respected, regardless of what happens after the snap elections.”

Following the constitutional crisis, Filip dissolved parliament and called an election for September.

“Both projects are commitments undertaken by the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Government acted in order to avoid their long term blockage by the political crisis in the country,” he added.
The government is attempting to force this decision to stand but upcoming elections could stall or reverse the decision, it seems.

That is what happened to the Paraguayan embassy, which was closed when a new president was elected.

Other countries announced vague plans to open up embassies. Only Guatemala did so, although upcoming elections threaten that embassy as well.

The compromise that many countries, including friendly European countries, seem to be taking is to open up trade offices in Jerusalem attached to their Tel Aviv embassies. According to a recent story in Times of Israel that surveyed the situation of embassies in Jerusalem a year after the US embassy move:

Meanwhile the European Union, in an internal memo obtained by The Times of Israel, has downplayed the trend among some member states to open trade offices in Jerusalem (some of which have diplomatic status since they are seen as “extensions” of a country’s Tel Aviv embassy, but are not considered embassies themselves), insisting that it remains firmly opposed to any recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and to establishing embassies there.

Is that meaningful?

Perhaps. If nothing else, these trade missions are a recognition that something has changed and the fiction that Jerusalem would become an international city, which was the EU's official position not too long ago, seems to have disappeared.

These small and mostly symbolic moves can be seen as important in another way. These trade offices, as extensions of actual embassies, can be seen in a way as weakening UN Security Council Resolution 478 which insisted that all nations withdraw and refuse to establish any diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.

Just considering the relocation of embassies to Jerusalem, as well as opening these extensions of Tel Aviv embassies, means that many countries have decided to ignore or bypass an anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution.

This is not a small thing.

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