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Malawi’s Jerusalem embassy opening awaits funding

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Over two years after Malawi promised to open an embassy in the two-state city of Jerusalem, government is yet to register progress on the matter.

But Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, John Kabaghe, on Wednesday attributed the delay to lack of funds.

In a written response to Malawi News questionnaire, Kabaghe said the embassy will be opened once the financial situation improves.

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“The Malawi Government is committed to opening a mission in Israel. However, the main impediment is the lack of funds. Once the funding situation improves, the government will go ahead to open the mission,” Kabaghe said.

Given the city’s disputed status and sensitivity in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most countries that have embassies in Israel have opened them in its commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

Several African countries had previously opened embassies to Israel in Jerusalem but closed them following the 1973 Middle East war.

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The then Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka, visited Israel in November 2020 and reaffirmed the intention of Malawi to open an Embassy in Jerusalem.

He held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi where he said Malawi would open the mission in 2021.

Responding to questions in Parliament on why Malawi had decided to be the first African country to have an embassy in Jerusalem, Chakwera said the country conducts its policy for the primary benefit of the nation and its citizens.

“Israel is among our strongest partners having established our diplomatic relations in 1964.The idea of re-energising the existing relations with Israel and establish residential diplomatic missions should not be regarded as something new in the foreign policy,” Chakwera said.

But in November 2020, Palestine Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas sent his special envoy Hanan Jarrar to deliver a letter of protest to Chakwera.

Jarrar said Palestine was shocked with Lilongwe’s decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem, a city claimed by both Palestine and Israel.

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