Lithuanian leader mulls moving embassy to Jerusalem




Lithuania
Lithuania's centrist Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis is running for president in the country's May 2019 polls  

Vilnius (AFP) - Centrist Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said Tuesday he would consider moving Lithuania's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem, should he win May's presidential elections.

Skvernelis said that moving the mission could lead to closer ties with Israel and the United States, which Lithuania sees as a key security buffer against Russia.

The embassy transfer "could bring new impetus for relations with Israel, both in the areas of security and trade," Skvernelis told reporters as he hit the presidential campaign trail to outline his foreign policy priorities.

"We would also send a signal that the United States is our partner not only in words but that we also side with it in bitter questions under discussions," he added.

President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem ruptured decades of international consensus that the city's disputed status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who also claim it as the capital of their future state.

Senior politicians in fellow EU states Czech Republic and Romania have said they are also considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem but no decisions have been taken to this date.

The EU as a whole holds the position that Jerusalem's status must be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Skvernelis insisted on Tuesday that his nation "must not be afraid to differ from neighbouring states", saying cultural and security links made Israel one of Lithuania's closest allies.

The legacy of the Holocaust and close alignment with the US are among the reasons why Lithuania has become one of Israel's closest friends within the EU over the last decade.

Outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite, who after two consecutive terms is not running for re-election, "would not comment on election programmes", her spokeswoman said.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Tuesday that Skvernelis' remarks did not mark any change in Lithuania's official policy because "he was talking as a presidential candidate, and not the prime minister".

"The official Lithuanian position has not changed: Jerusalem's status must be solved through negotiations and both sides should refrain from unilateral actions and decisions," the minister told AFP.

By law, moving the embassy would require the approval of both the government and the president.

Lithuania will hold a two-round presidential election on May 12 and 26.

In recent opinion polls, Skvernelis was trailing independent economist Gitanas Nauseda and conservative ex-finance minister Ingrida Simonyte.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Israeli tank, aircraft hit Gaza after cross-border fire: army
Israeli tank, aircraft hit Gaza after cross-border fire: army

Israel on Friday struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip with tank and aircraft fire after troops were shot at on the Israeli side of the border, the army said. The Israeli military said in a statement that "no injuries to soldiers were reported" after its troops came under fire. Palestinian security sources in Hamas-ruled Gaza told AFP that the Israeli strikes hit Hamas military observation posts at three locations along the frontier.

Israel destroys family apartments of accused Palestinian killer
Israel destroys family apartments of accused Palestinian killer

Israeli forces destroyed two apartments in the occupied West Bank on Friday that housed the family of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli woman in February, the army said. Some clashes broke out between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces during the operation, AFP journalists reported.

Iran
Iran's Rouhani calls on Mideast states to 'drive back Zionism'

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called on Middle East states on Thursday to "drive back Zionism", in an Army Day tirade against the Islamic republic's archfoe Israel. Speaking flanked by top generals before troops began their annual march-past, Rouhani also sought to reassure the region that the weaponry on display was for defensive purposes and not a threat.

Kushner urges
Kushner urges 'open mind' on upcoming Mideast plan: source

Kushner said the peace plan is to be unveiled after Israel forms a governing coalition in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in early June, the source said. "We will all have to look for reasonable compromises that will make peace achievable," Kushner said, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous. Kushner, one of the main architects of the peace proposal and who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, spoke to about 100 ambassadors from around the world at Blair House, the presidential guest home across the street from the White House.

Trump and Netanyahu Are Breaking the Bond Between American Jews and Israel
Trump and Netanyahu Are Breaking the Bond Between American Jews and Israel

"For many American Jews, though, the status quo is not a victory," writes Eisner

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.