Philippines Says Not Moving Its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Foreign Minister denies reports it is among ten countries planning to transfer embassies

The Philippines is not moving its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the country's foreign minister said, denying reports that it was among ten nations planning the transfer.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Israel never even asked the Philippine government to consider such a move.

"We have communicated clearly to all our friends in the Middle East that there hasn't been any discussion or move to move our embassy from Tel Aviv," he told Manila television network GMA News on Tuesday.

On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Israel is talking with more than 10 countries about potentially moving their respective embassies to Jerusalem following Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’s announcement that he would move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.

Hotovely told Haaretz that these discussions are initially focusing on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, rather than on immediately moving the embassies. On December 7, U.S. President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, adding that the U.S. embassy would be eventually be moved there from Tel Aviv.

Cayetano noted that the Philippine government supports a two-state solution and was willing to play a role as peacemaker in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We are for peaceful resolution of conflict," he said. "In diplomacy, unless there is an urgent situation, you don't just take a blind giant leap. You study all of these. There's going to be a balancing act."

An Israeli public broadcaster said ten countries, including the Philippines, Romania and South Sudan, were considering transferring their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem after talks with Israel.

The move would in effect recognize the disputed city as Israel's capital.
Last week, the Philippines was among 35 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote on US President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  

Millions of Filipinos work and live in the Middle East, and the Philippine government has stressed their welfare was a key factor in determining its foreign policy.