Romanian President Contradicts 'Ignorant' Prime Minister: Embassy Won't Move to Jerusalem

The president has the final say about moving the embassy, contradicts Viorica Dancila's claim at AIPAC that she will move Bucharest's embassy in Israel, in yet another disappointment to Israel on this front

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis arrives at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium March 22, 2019.
REUTERS/Yves Herman

WASHINGTON – Hours after Romania’s prime minister told the AIPAC conference on Sunday that her country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the statement was strongly contradicted by the country’s president, who opposes the move and has a final say on foreign policy issues.

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President Klaus Iohannis called his prime minister, Viorica Dancila, “ignorant” for making the statement, which had received strong applause from those attending the pro-Israeli conference.

Last year, Dancila submitted a draft resolution to her cabinet to move the embassy, but ran into opposition from the country's president.

In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Dancila in Jerusalem and urged her to try and stop the European Union's "bad resolutions against Israel," as well as telling her he hoped Bucharest would move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila looks on during a EU Tripartite Social Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 20, 2019.
JOHN THYS / AFP

Also Sunday, Honduras announced that it would open a diplomatic trade office in Jerusalem in an apparent disappointment to Israel. A senior Israeli official said in January that Honduran President Juan Hernandez had asked Netanyahu to mediate between him and the Trump administration in exchange for the Honduran embassy's transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Last week, Hungary's foreign minister told an Israeli newspaper that Budapest's embassy would remain in Tel Aviv and not be moved to Jerusalem, a day after his country dedicated a new commercial office in Jerusalem. 

Some Austrian politicians, as well as leading Czech, Romanian and Hungarian figures, have voiced support for moving their respective embassies to Jerusalem, but no European nation followed through with such a move, in line with the European Union's position. The United States, Guatemala and Paraguay did do so last year, but the last of these moved its embassy back to Tel Aviv in September.