(L to R) Honduran Foreign Minister Lisandro, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid pose together with exchanged signed bilateral agreements at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 24, 2021. AFP
Honduras on Thursday opened its embassy in contested Jerusalem, becoming the fourth country to follow the U.S. move under former President Donald Trump to relocate its chief diplomatic mission in Israel from Tel Aviv.
To mark the occasion, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett signed several bilateral cooperation agreements in Jerusalem on Thursday.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
This step follows Israel's 11-day military campaign on Gaza Strip and crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which took place in May.
The U.S. inaugurated its embassy in the city in 2018, and Guatemala, Kosovo and Honduras followed suit. Paraguay opened its embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, but then reversed course months later.
Most countries maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.
Bennett said that the opening of the Honduran Embassy in Jerusalem, and the planned reopening of the Israeli Embassy in Tegucigalpa, was ``another demonstration of the deep friendship and deep connection'' between the two countries. Israel previously had an embassy in Honduras until the 1990s.
Hernandez, who visited the holy city in 2019, had pledged to move his country's embassy to Jerusalem. Israel's then-Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in turn pledged to reopen the Tegucigalpa embassy.
Jerusalem is home to Israel's parliament, Supreme Court, and many government offices. Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed that part of the city. East Jerusalem is home to the Old City, with holy sites sacred to Muslims.
The Trump administration's decision to fulfill a longstanding U.S. promise and move the embassy to Jerusalem, following Washington's recognition that the city was Israel's capital, flew in the face of international consensus and enraged the Palestinians.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.