By Ariel Kahana, JNS—
The Israeli government is preparing an official initiative, including an incentives package, to encourage countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem. Foreign Minister Israel Katz will soon present a proposal to the Cabinet to designate the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem as a “national, diplomatic and strategic objective of the highest order.”
When Katz began his tenure as foreign minister in February 2019, he learned there were countries that agreed in principle to open embassies in Jerusalem, but sought reciprocal measures from Israel. For example, Honduras and El Salvador have agreed to open embassies in Jerusalem, but want Israel to open full diplomatic missions in their respective capitals in return—a move that hasn’t been forthcoming on Israel’s part.
Other countries have requested developmental and economic aid from Israel, while also hoping such a move would open doors in the United Sates, and have even asked Israel to help pay for the relocation to Jerusalem. In these cases, too, there has been little to no Israeli follow-up, which has stalled progress on the matter.
In his upcoming presentation to the government, Katz will propose giving countries willing to move their embassies to Jerusalem an aid package worth NIS 50 million (around $14.2 million). Because Israel is preparing for another general election, scheduled for Sept. 17, Katz’s proposal pertains to the 2020 national budget. However, according to his proposal, he would have the authority to divert resources from the current budget to facilitate such an embassy move.
The funds would be earmarked to help finance the relocation of an existing embassy or the launch of a new one; the transfer of ambassadors’ residences to Jerusalem; assisting the Jerusalem Municipality, local authorities and relevant bodies to make the proper accommodations; and to provide cooperation and other aid to the relevant country in accordance with the circumstances. Continue Reading…