BUCHAREST (Reuters) - The leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrats said the government had approved a memorandum to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, one of the first countries to do so following the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump in December recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Washington’s Arab allies and dismaying Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as their capital.
Under Romanian legislation, a final embassy relocation decision belongs to centrist President Klaus Iohannis, who said he had not been consulted. The Romanian government and foreign ministry did not immediately confirm the information.
“Yesterday, the government adopted a memorandum deciding to start the procedure to effectively move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Social Democrat leader and lower house speaker Liviu Dragnea told private television station Antena3 late on Thursday.
Dragnea keeps a tight grip on his party and is seen as effectively in charge of the cabinet.
Romanian President Iohannis said in a statement on Friday that he had not been informed or consulted about the decision and urged all government and political actors to show “responsibility and discernment regarding major foreign policy decisions that have strategic effects including on national security.”
“Such a decision must be taken only after consulting and securing the approval of all foreign policy and national security institutions, with a final decision belonging to the President, according to the constitution.”
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “at least half a dozen” countries were considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy is due to relocate on May 14.
“Our gesture has a huge symbolic value ... for Israel, a state with an unbelievably large influence in the world and with which we have had a special relationship for many years,” Social Democrat leader Dragnea said.
“Moving the embassy to Jerusalem can and I believe will bring short, medium and long-term benefits for Romania and we must use this huge chance and opportunity.”
Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra