Ticos Called for Peace in Middle East

December 22, 2006

Local uproar over Israel’s bombing of Lebanon July 12 through Aug. 14, combined with Costa Rica’s decision to move its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, put Israel in the news nearly two months here.

During this middle-eastern media frenzy, Israeli Ambassador Alexander Ben-Zvi finished his four-year post to Costa Rica and was replaced by Ehud Eitam.

While Ben-Zvi blamed the Israel-Hezbollah conflict on Lebanon, Albert Karam, the Lebanese consul to Costa Rica, said Israel never asked Lebanon to rescue the soldiers captured by Hezbollah, a Lebanese Islamist Shiite organization and political party. Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers set off the month-long rocket exchange that killed hundreds and destroyed the better part of Lebanon’s infrastructure.

Protesters marched in San José at least twice, and President Arias’ government called for a ceasefire at the end of July.

Days after a U.N.-brokered truce, Arias announced Costa Rica would move its embassy, in accordance with a 26-year-old U.N. request to avoid taking sides in the dispute over whose capital is Jerusalem. The move left El Salvador as the only country with an embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. (El Salvador followed Costa Rica’s lead later in August.)

Israel’s embassy here, the American Jewish Committee, the ZionistIsraeliCenter of Costa Rica and Jaime Daremblum, former Costa Rican ambassador to the United States, said the move was ill timed and looked like a reward for terrorism.

Lebanon’s consul celebrated the move, saying his country would pick up trade with Costa Rica and install a Lebanese embassy here.

 

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