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DFA denies PH has plan to move embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

/ 09:05 PM December 27, 2017

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) denied reports it was engaged in talks with Israel to relocate the Philippine Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States said it planned to do despite an international outcry.

For the first time, the DFA explained for why it abstained from the United Nations General Assembly vote last Dec. 21 on the issue, saying that the Philippines respected the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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But it also reiterated the Philippines’ long-standing support for the UN’s so-called two-state policy to peacefully resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict, including settling the status of Jerusalem in an eventual peace deal between the two sides.

Considered a holy place by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, Jerusalem is claimed by both Palestine and Israel as their capital.

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“There has been no recent discussion whether among relevant government agencies or bilaterally with Israel or with any other country, on the location of the Philippine Embassy in Israel,” the DFA said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Any decision on the location of our Embassy will be based firmly on our national interest and our long-standing support for peace in the Middle East,” it stressed.

During an emergency special session by the UN General Assembly last Dec. 21, a huge majority of nations rejected US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with a vote of 128 against 9.

Meanwhile, 35 nations, including the Philippines, abstained, while 21 nations were absent during the vote, after US threatened to cut aid to those who would oppose its move.

Earlier, the US move was also rejected by the UN Security Council in a 14-1 vote. The US used its veto power to block the decision.

After the UN General Assembly vote, news reports from Israel said the Philippines was among the countries consulting with Israeli authorities on the transfer of their embassy to Jerusalem.

“The Philippines has always supported the policy of two states for two peoples as a long-term solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” the DFA said. “The Philippines is also willing to play its part in brokering peace in the region.”

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“On the other hand, the Philippines values every nation’s sovereignty. Each nation should be able to determine with whom, to what extent, and how it will develop its bilateral relations with other countries,” the DFA added, alluding to the controversial US decision.

“While the Philippines retains this important prerogative, there has been no recent discussion, whether among relevant government agencies, or bilaterally with Israel or with any other country, on the location of the Philippine Embassy in Israel,” the DFA stressed. /atm

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TAGS: Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, Jerusalem as capital, Palestine-Israel conflict, Philippine Embassy in Israel
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