Equatorial Guinea plans to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the first such pledge of its kind under the new administration of US President Joe Biden.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo on Friday, after which his office released a statement.
Netanyahu said he welcomed the trend to relocate embassies to Jerusalem, and noted in particular that this pledge was part of Israel’s growing ties with Africa.
Israel is returning to Africa and Africa is returning to Israel, Netanyahu told Mbasogo. The president said that the whole of Africa welcomed Israel with open arms.
To date the only two countries with embassies in Jerusalem are the United States and Guatemala. Until 2018, all embassies were located in the Tel Aviv area as a sign of the international community’s rejection of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In 2017, US President Donald Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. The US then pushed, along with Israel, for other countries to follow suit, to shore up recognition of Israeli ties to the city.
So far, only Guatemala has followed suit. Kosovo, which pledged to open its first embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, asked for permission to have an embassy in the capital at the start of this month.
A number of other countries have also pledged to open embassies in Jerusalem including Brazil, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Serbia, but to date none have done so.
The Biden administration has stated that it recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that the US embassy would remain there.
Friday’s announcement marks the first post-Trump pledge by a country to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and signals the potential for Israel to persuade other countries to follow suit, particularly in Africa.
Some members of the international community hold that Jerusalem should not be considered part of Israel, let alone its capital. There is a belief that Jerusalem’s status as a holy city to three religions means that it should have an independent status.
Then there are those who believe that Jerusalem should be divided along the pre-1967 lines, so that Israel could claim west Jerusalem as its capital and the Palestinians could claim east Jerusalem as their capital.
Israel holds that Jerusalem is its united capital and the Trump administration held that much of Jerusalem should be within Israel’s final sovereign borders.
When quizzed about the Biden administration’s position on east Jerusalem last Friday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “the ultimate status of Jerusalem is, in fact, a final status issue which will need to be resolved by the parties in the context of direct negotiations.
Those who have pledged to relocate their embassy are presumed to support Israel sovereignty only in western Jerusalem.
Equatorial Guinea and Israel initially had ties from 1968-1974, which were severed as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Those ties were reestablished in 1994, with Equatorial Guinea opening an embassy in Tel Aviv only in 2019.