Dominican Republic Says Considering Moving Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

A statement released by the Caribbean island’s Foreign Ministry touts nation’s long-standing ties to the Jewish people, beginning as early as the 15th century and during World War II

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Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, the President of the Dominican Republic, speaks in a pre-recorded video message during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2020.
Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, the President of the Dominican Republic, speaks in a pre-recorded video message during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2020.Credit: AP

The Dominican Republic announced on Friday that it is considering moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

A statement issued by the Caribbean country’s Foreign Ministry pointed out that “ties between the Jewish people and the Dominican Republic began as early as the 15th century, when the first exiles from Spain arrived on the island, and continued through the eve of World War II, when the republic opened its gates to thousands of Jewish refugees.”

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The foreign ministry said that it was evaluating the move at the request of the local Jewish community, noting that its embassy in Israel had been located in Jerusalem until 1980, and that the capital is home to Israel’s official institutions.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi praised the Dominican Republic and expressed gratitude to his Dominican counterpart Roberto Alvarez Gil for considering it.

"I thanked him during our phone call yesterday for this important decision and for the many years of friendship between our two countries," Ashkenazi said on Twitter.

The announcement came just two months into a new Dominican administration led by President Luis Abinader, the grandson of Lebanese immigrants. Since taking power, Abinader has described as "very special" the country's relationship with the United States, the Dominican Republic's main trade partner.

Although so far only two countries – the United States and Guatemala – have opened their embassies in Jerusalem, the Dominican declaration, just a few days before the U.S. presidential election, followed on the heels of other countries in Latin America and the Balkans that have recently moved their embassy to Jerusalem or are considering it.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election on Tuesday, enraged the Palestinians and angered many world leaders by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in late 2017, and the U.S. embassy moved there the following year.

Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem soon afterwards, and last month, Honduras announced its intention to do the same by the end of 2020. Brazil is also mulling the move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump announced last month that Kosovo and Serbia may also open embassies in Israel’s capital.

Jerusalem's status 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.

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