NEW YORK – In an effort to stop Romania’s government from relocating its embassy to Jerusalem, German chancellor Angela Merkel called Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis in April, urging him to stop Bucharest’s declared announcement to move its diplomatic building to Israel’s capital.
A Western source told The Jerusalem Post that Merkel lobbied the Romanian president to put a halt on the relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem. It is believed that Merkel called other European politicians as part of a campaign to block the relocation of European embassies to Jerusalem.
The president of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies and a member of Romania’s governing party, the social democratic politician Liviu Dragnea, told the television station Antena 3 in April that the “government adopted a memorandum deciding to start the procedure to effectively move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
The dramatic and apparent anti-Israel intervention by Merkel, who proclaimed in a Knesset speech in 2008 that Israel’s security interests are “non-negotiable” and part of Germany’s raison d’être, was not denied by the governments of Romania and the Federal Republic.
A spokesperson for the Romanian ministry of foreign affairs wrote the Post on Friday by email that “Regarding your question, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot comment on alleged discussions between Angela Merkel and the Romanian President. We would advise you to contact the Presidential Administration should you need to have further information.” Iohannis’s office did not immediately respond to a Post query.
A spokeswoman for the Merkel administration wrote the Post on Thursday “We cannot report from confidential talks.” When asked if Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the Merkel administration spokeswoman declined to answer directly. She said that the “status of Jerusalem should, in the framework of an agreement, be clarified.” The spokeswoman said a solution to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis can take place with an agreed upon two-state solution, adding “Until a such an agreement is reached, all sides should avoid steps that sharpen the existing tensions and complicate a peaceful solution of the conflict.”
Shir Gideon, a spokeswoman for Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, wrote the Post by email: “We have no comment on this issue.”
In April, Romania’s president called on Romania’s pro-Israel prime minister Viorica Dancila to resign because of the government’s approval to relocate the embassy in April. It is unclear if Merkel’s call to Iohannis played a role in his decision to urge Dancila’s ouster.
The US relocated its embassy to Jerusalem in May. Guatemala followed the US lead, and now has its embassy there. Brazil’s newly-elected president Jair Bolsonaro has stated he will move his country’s embassy to Israel’s capital. Similarly, in April Honduras’s National Congress supported a resolution supporting the relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.
In addition to waging an ostensible campaign to stop the relocation of European embassies to Jerusalem, Merkel rebuffed President Reuven Rivlin’s request last month during her visit to Jerusalem to join US sanctions against Iran’s regime. The US state department considers the Iranian regime to be the top international state-sponsor of terrorism.