Country Decides to Move Embassy in Israel

August 18, 2006

President Oscar Arias Wednesday announced the Costa Rican Embassy in Israel will undergo a historic move from Jerusalem to the Israeli capital, Tel Aviv.

The Costa Rican and Salvadoran embassies are the only two in the world located in Jerusalem, a city at the center of bitter disputes among members of different religious creeds who for years have claimed it as their own.

Arias announced this week that he does not intend to offend Israel with the transfer, but that it is impossible to please everyone.

“This is not about offending the dear people of Israel, to whom we are united, and will continue to be united by close ties, deeper than any political juncture. This is about respecting international law,” Arias said in a statement from Casa Presidencial.

“Every time I make a decision, somebody is displeased, and possibly, there are members of (Costa Rica’s) Jewish community who will feel resentful,” he said Wednesday at a press conference at Casa Presidencial following this week’s Cabinet meeting. He said the embassy in Jerusalem has received instructions to move as soon as possible.

Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno yesterday said Costa Rica’s decision to move the embassy shows its desire to respect the United Nations, which since 1980 has called for its member nations to move their embassies out of Jerusalem. He did not explain why Costa Rica took more than 20 years to move its embassy, which Arias admitted was a mistake.

The Israeli Embassy in San José criticized the decision.

“The government of Israel deeply regrets and is disappointed by the decision of the Costa Rican government. In fact, we are hurt, more than anything because it is happening now,” business attaché Ahuva Spieler told The Tico Times.

Spieler said the terrorist organizations Israel is currently confronting could interpret this action as a reward, and said it will not contribute to peace processes in the conflict-ridden region.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Israeli people. Nothing and nobody will change that,” she said.

The Costa Rican Embassy was moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in 1980 by then- President Rodrigo Carazo and moved back to Jerusalem in 1982 by then-President Luis Alberto Monge.

Arias had advised former President Abel Pacheco (2002-2006) to change its location in an opinion piece published in the daily La Nación in July 2002.

 

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