Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz will propose to give an aid package worth US$14.2 million to countries in exchange for their embassies' relocation to Jerusalem.
The Israeli government will pay foreign countries to relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem according to a new initiative to be presented by Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz to the cabinet soon according to a report by Israel Hayom published Sunday.
The initiative is considered a "national, diplomatic and strategic objective of the highest order." Under it, Katz formed incentive packages to encourage the countries to move embassies.
Katz, according to the report, came upon the knowledge that when foreign countries relocate their embassies, they seek something in return from Israel. For example, Honduras and El Salvador wanted Israel to open full diplomatic missions in their own countries in exchange for the embassy move.
Some countries demanded economic aid from Israel, some hoped an embassy move would help with closer ties to the United States, and some countries even asked Israel to pay the relocation costs.
Katz proposal will include an aid package worth US$14.2 million for countries willing to relocate their embassies. The foreign minister said he would facilitate embassy moves by diverting resources from the current budget.
"There is nothing more expressive of our return to Zion and the success of Zionism than strengthening the sovereignty of Israel and the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Bolstering Jerusalem's status in the world is the most important objective I've set for myself as foreign minister. Jerusalem was and always will be the beating heart of the Jewish nation,” Katz told Israel Hayom.
His proposals are meant to be part of the 2020 national budget as the country is facing its second snap election this year, in September, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government.
A steering committee headed by Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem would be in charge of deciding how the aid packages would be allocated among the countries.
The funds would be used to help countries in relocating or launching a new embassy, or transfer the ambassador’s house to Jerusalem, or provide aid to countries according to the circumstances.
The U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2018 and moved its embassy from Tel Aviv. Since then only Guatemala took the same step.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 War and later annexed the city in a move not recognized by the international community. Israel considers Jerusalem as their undivided capital, while Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.