Friday, 1 Dec 2023 - 18 of Kislev, 5784

Congo to move its embassy to Jerusalem

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Five countries have their embassies in Israel’s capital, with more on the way.

By Etgar Lefkovits, JNS, and EJP

The Democratic Republic of Congo will move its embassy to Jerusalem, and Israel will open a diplomatic mission in Kinshasa, the leaders of the two countries said late Thursday.

The news, which was announced after a joint meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly general debate in New York, followed similar recent declarations by Paraguay and Sierra Leone as well as the opening earlier this month of the embassy of Papua New Guinea in Israel’s capital city.

“We’ve just had very productive talks with the president of Congo, and we agreed that Israel will open an embassy in Kinshasa and Congo will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “These are two good announcements and I think they reflect our common desire to upgrade our relations.”

“We had excellent discussions which covered the excellent relations that we have and how to reinforce those relations,” Tshisekedi said in remarks translated from French. “And those exchanges also covered the way we could come closer to Israel by developing more projects, in security, cybersecurity and so on,” he added, noting that the embassy move to Jerusalem and Israel’s inauguration of one was reflective of the growing ties.

Félix Tshisekedi has never hidden his interest in Israel. In March 2020, he even took part in an “ecumenical service to reaffirm the bonds of friendship and brotherhood between the Christians of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Israel”.

At the same time, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington DC, the Congolese President expressed his desire to deepen relations with Israel. With this in mind, and in support of Donald Trump’s plan for the region, he also announced his intention to establish an economic section of the Congolese embassy in Jerusalem.

Diplomatic push for Jerusalem

The announcement with the Central African nation—population 112 million and once known as Zaire—is the latest fruit of a push by the Israeli government to encourage countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, and the blossoming of faith-based diplomacy.

Five countries have their embassies in Jerusalem: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papua New Guinea.

The remainder of the 175 countries that have ties with Israel still maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv or in Tel Aviv suburbs due to the political sensitivities over the capital city.

Then-President Donald Trump’s landmark decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 set the stage for other countries to follow suit in the following years, with additional nations expected to make similar announcements in the near future.

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