Honduras to move embassy to Jerusalem by end of 2020

Honduras will move its embassy to Jerusalem this year, and Israel will open an embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The two new embassies will open by the end of 2020, the statement said.

The announcement followed a conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.

“With their flags flying in the capitals of the two countries, Israel and Honduras declare their intention to complete the action plan before the end of the current year, with a mutual opening and inauguration of their embassies in the national capitals, Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem,” the statement said.

The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said it was a joint announcement from the two countries, but Hernández issued a more tepid statement on Twitter, writing, “We hope to take this historic step before the end of the year, as long as the pandemic allows it.” The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Israel opened a representative office in the Honduran capital.

Honduras has the second-largest population of Palestinians in Latin America, after Chile.

Mattanya Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Honduras and Guatemala, told Army Radio “They told me there’s no chance that Honduras will move its embassy because there is a large Palestinian community there. I didn’t give up. We started with quiet contacts behind the scenes, with ministers, with parliament members, and the community.”

Hernández during their phone call congratulated Netanyahu on the normalization agreements signed by Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last week, which he called a “revolution of peace in the region,” the statement said.

Netanyahu vowed to strengthen the “true friendship” between the two countries with tourism, investments, technology, agriculture, education and trade.

So far, only the US and Guatemala operate full-fledged embassies in Jerusalem. A number of countries operate trade, defense or cultural missions in the city, including Honduras, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, Hungary.

Honduras recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in August, 2019, and a month later opened a commercial office in Jerusalem as an extension to Honduras’ embassy in Rishon Lezion.

In January, Honduras officially declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in a move praised by Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and officially moved the US embassy there in 2018, sparking a deterioration in relations with the Palestinians. Guatemala followed suit soon after.

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