Preparations for Malawi to open its embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, are at advanced stage, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On September 10 last year, President Lazarus Chakwera told Parliament that Malawi would open its embassy in Jerusalem, attracting the ire of Palestine, which said the decision was against international law.
But Malawi has made progress towards the opening of its diplomatic mission offices in Jerusalem, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Rejoice Shumba said in a telephone interview.
“The Covid pandemic restricted us (Malawi) from making major steps towards opening the Malawi embassy in Jerusalem but, by the next financial year, we will at least have a picture as to when exactly will the embassy open,” Shumba said.
Shumba said there were a number of things the government was working on as it implements the directive by Chakwera regarding the opening of the embassy.
“It is not a one day thing because there are financial and human resource issues to look into, but we have made great strides towards the opening of an embassy not only in Jerusalem but also in Abuja, Nigeria,” Shumba said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka, who visited Israel last year, described the move to open an embassy in Jerusalem as “a bold and significant step”.
Recently, some countries, including the United States under former president Donald Trump of the Republican Party, announced that they would move their diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, to Jerusalem— which both Palestine and Israel claim.
In November last year, Palestine Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas sent his special envoy Hanan Jarrar to deliver a letter of protest to Chakwera after he announced Malawi’s intentions to have an office in Jerusalem.
Jarrar told journalists, after holding talks with Chakwera at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, that Palestine was shocked with Lilongwe’s decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
She cited Security Council resolutions 476 and 2334, which do not recognise any action to change the status and character of Jerusalem, which is considered a holy city by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.