Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Sunday that he hoped the country would open an embassy in Jerusalem before the end of the year, if restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic permit it.
Hernandez and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone about the deep friendship and strategic partnership between Israel and Honduras, stressing that both countries are linked by an alliance of economic and diplomatic cooperation.
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"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."
Hernandez congratulated Netanyahu for the historic Israel-UAE-Bahrain Abraham Accords Peace Agreement signed last week at the White House. The Honduran president said the accords symbolize the "peace revolution" the Middle East is going through and sent his Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews in Israel and abroad.
On his part, Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for the "true friendship and steadfast support" Israel is receiving from Honduras, and reiterated Israel's commitment to strengthen this partnership through cooperation in the fields of tourism, technology, agriculture, education and commerce.
The Central American nation has signaled in the past that it may move its embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu also 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.
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On January 1 2019, a joint statement said that Netanyahu, Hernandez and Pompeo had agreed to hold meetings in the capitals of each country "to advance the decision process to open embassies in both Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem," as well as "strengthen political relations and coordinate development cooperation in Honduras."
The statement was released following a trilateral meeting between the premier, the Honduran president and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on the sidelines of the inauguration of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
In March 2019 Honduras recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and said it will eventually move its embassy there.
In September of that year Honduras opened a trade mission with diplomatic status 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 Six-Day War, as the capital of a future state. Israel regards the entire city, including the eastern sector it annexed after 1967, as its capital.
Reuters contributed to this report.