Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández officially opened Honduras' embassy in Jerusalem on Thursday, moving their Israeli mission from a Tel Aviv suburb.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Honduran counterpart Lisandro Rosales also signed memorandums of understanding relating to health, agriculture, water management, education, information sharing, development and innovation, among other matters.
In a speech welcoming the Honduran delegation, Bennett called Hernández "a true friend of Israel." He added, "The Jewish people have a long memory, and you will be inscribed in the pages of history as someone who made a brave and correct move for the State of Israel. Thank you."
Under his government, Honduras "has stood firm next to Israel in international institutions when it was not always popular to do so," Bennett said. "This is testimony to friendship – the willingness to take action, including paying a price."
Bennett also addressed last month's escalation between Israel and Hamas. Hamas, he said, repeatedly chooses terror over investing in the people of Gaza. "What was before, will not be," he said, referring to the status quo before the hostilities.
Hernández announced in September that he hoped Honduras would open an embassy in Jerusalem before the end of last year, if coronavirus restrictions permitted it.
In February, the Prime Minister's Office, under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, confirmed that Israel was to send a few thousand doses of coronavirus vaccines to several countries with which it has recently bolstered relations, including Honduras.
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The other countries involved in the agreement were the Czech Republic, Hungary and Guatemala. Guatemala moved its Israel embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, while the Czech Republic has said it plans to open a "diplomatic office" in Jerusalem. In 2019, Hungary opened a "trade office" in the city as well.
The agreement was criticized by Netanyahu's opponents, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg. Gantz took Netanyahu to task for using the taxpayer-funded vaccines for diplomacy that had not been approved by other government bodies. Zandberg urged Netanyahu to send more vaccines to the West Bank and Gaza.
In March, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit ruled that Netanyahu could not send vaccines to other countries without first consulting the foreign and finance ministries and receiving approval from either the full cabinet or the diplomatic-security cabinet.
However, with the imminent expiration of thousands of jabs, the revamped Justice Ministry has been working in recent weeks to authorize a policy of "vaccine diplomacy."