- Malawi is to become the first African country to open an embassy to Israel in disputed Jerusalem
- Malawi has had diplomatic ties with the Jewish state since 1964 but without opening an embassy
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka is in Israel where he has formally informed the government there that Malawi is to become the first African country to follow the US example and open an embassy to Israel in the disputed city of Jerusalem.
The UN Security Council resolution does not recognise the city as Israel’s capital due to a long standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The African Union (AU) has also previously passed several anti-Israel resolutions.
But President Lazarus Chakwera is firm that Malawi should establish a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, saying his decision was not new in foreighb policy as Malawi, during the one-party regime of founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda, also had diplomatic ties with Israel until 1994 when Israel’s residential base moved from Lilongwe to Harare.
Mkaka on Tuesday met his Israel counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and delivered a message from President Chakwera on the decision to open a Jerusalem embassy, expected by summer 2021.
Speaking to reporters Mkaka said he Malawi has had diplomatic ties with the Jewish state since 1964 but without opening an embassy.
Mkaka said Malawi’s relationship with Israel has “stood the test of time” and that President Chakwera will soon pay a visit to Israel.
Malawi is a “pioneer,” and the decision to open embassy in Jerusalem is “further proof of the ties between the country and the widening of the circle of peace,” Israle Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi saidto reporters as quoted by The Jerusalem Post
“Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, will be a bridge of peace for the whole world, and I call on more countries to follow in Malawi’s path and move their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” he said.
Ashkenazi committed to have an Israeli development expert posted in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, and to introduce courses for Malawi from MASHAV, the Foreign Ministry’s development agency.
Breaking with longstanding diplomatic practice, US President Donald Trump in December 2017 recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy to the city in May.
Israel considers the holy city its eternal capital, but Palestinians want east Jerusalem, seized in a 1967 Middle East war, as part of a future state.