Honduras calls Jerusalem Israeli capital, opens trade office

People look out from a building facing the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount
People look out from a building facing the Dome of the Rock (R), located in Jerusalem’s Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

March 24, 2019

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduras on Sunday described Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said it would open an office there for trade to complement its embassy in Tel Aviv, but it was not immediately clear if the news marked a formal change in its policy toward the holy city.

In a statement, the Honduran foreign ministry said that the Central American country would open a “trade office in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, which would be like an extension of the Honduran embassy in the city of Tel Aviv.”

Officials could not immediately be reached to clarify whether Honduras had formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, following in the footsteps of U.S. President Donald Trump, who last May moved the U.S. embassy to the disputed city.

Trump’s move was criticized by many foreign governments and caused anger among Palestinians, who with broad international backing seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

East Jerusalem is still considered occupied under international law, and the city’s status is supposed to be decided as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Plans for the “immediate” opening of the Honduran trade office were also announced on Twitter by President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who has in recent months signaled that his government is mulling moving the Honduran embassy to Jerusalem.

Hernandez, an ally of the United States, is in Washington to participate in a conference on U.S.-Israeli relations.

The Honduran foreign ministry said in a statement that Israel would in a reciprocal gesture open an office for cooperation in Tegucigalpa, giving it diplomatic status.

Honduras’ Central American neighbor Guatemala in May moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem after the United States, fueling expectations that Hernandez might follow suit.

(Reporting by Orfa Mejia; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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