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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Going backwards

Israel is the only country in the world in which most of the foreign embassies are not maintained in the capital city. That's because Israel is the only country in the world whose capital city - Jerusalem - is not recognized as such by most other countries in the world. One of the few countries in the world which recognized Jerusalem as our capital was Costa Rica. But that is about to change.

The president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, announced on Wednesday that his country would move its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, saying that, "It is time to amend an historic mistake which harms our country in the international arena and prevents us from maintaining friendly ties with the Arab world and the culture of Islam," Arias, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, said. Excuse me while I puke.

The Costa Rican leader stressed that there was "no doubt" that Israel had the right to exist and live in peace without the threat of terrorism.

"This is not about offending the dear Israeli people with whom we have and will continue to have close ties ... rather, it is about respecting international law," said Arias. Respecting what?

If Costa Rica implements this decision, the only country to have its embassy in the Israeli capital would be El Salvador. Hours after the Costa Rican announcement, the Foreign Ministry of El Salvador said in a statement that it would keep its embassy in Jerusalem, citing the delicate state of political affairs in the region.

"Given the state of affairs in the Middle East, any decision on the location of the Salvadoran embassy should seek to aid the pacification of the region and not affect the fragile and delicate equilibrium that is being established," the ministry said.

Costa Rica moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 1982 under then-president Luis Alberto Monge, leading the nations of the Arab League to break off relations with Costa Rica. El Salvador established its embassy in Jerusalem in 1984.

"Until today, we were the only country in the world, together with El Salvador, to have an embassy in Jerusalem," Arias said. "Even Israel's closest allies have preferred not to challenge international law by locating their embassies there."


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