Honduras to open embassy in Jerusalem this month, president to visit Israel
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduras will open an embassy in Jerusalem this month, the country’s president said on Thursday, with the aim of strengthening ties with Israel after decades of operations in Tel Aviv.
The Central American nation previously opened a trade office in Jerusalem, breaking a decades-long policy of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel is preparing to open a diplomatic office in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, in response, after opening a temporary representative office in the Honduran capital last August.
“We are going to formalize what we have already achieved step by step, namely the installation of our embassy in Jerusalem,” said President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
He added that this decision “will strengthen us on the agricultural side, in the field of innovation and in the field of tourism”.
Receive The Times of Israel daily edition via email and never miss our best stories Sign up for free
There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.
Honduras has struggled to obtain COVID-19 vaccines to control a pandemic that has overwhelmed hospitals, but in February obtained 5,000 Moderna vaccines donated by Israel.
Last September, following a phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hernandez, Israel said that mutual embassies would be open by the end of 2020. This ultimately did not happen, apparently due to of the pandemic.
Honduras has the second largest Palestinian community in Latin America, just behind Chile.
It joins a small but growing number of countries with embassies in Jerusalem, including the United States, Kosovo and its Central American neighbor, Guatemala.
Honduras recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in August 2019 and a month later opened a trade office in Jerusalem as an extension of the Honduran embassy in Rishon Lezion.
In January 2020, Honduras officially declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in a gesture hailed by Jerusalem.
US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the end of 2017 and officially moved the US embassy there in 2018, triggering a deterioration in relations with the Palestinians. Guatemala followed suit shortly thereafter.
Moving an embassy to Jerusalem is very controversial. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Most diplomatic missions in Israel are located in or near Tel Aviv, as countries attempt to maintain a neutral stance on the status of Jerusalem.