Costa Rica has decided to move its embassy to Israel from Jerusalem, where it has been since 1982, to Tel Aviv.
President Oscar Arias said the move was needed to bring the Central American nation into line with international law and mend relations with Arab nations. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, but most nations don't formally recognize that claim.The Costa Rican foreign ministry explained the move as one of wanting to comply with the UN's guidelines to refusing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but the move may have also come at the behest of the country's new president, Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias, who announced the decision soon after the Hizbullah-Israel ceasefire went into place. (It had been part of his election campaign pledges.) Of course Israel is appalled:
"It's time to rectify a historical error that damages us on the international level and deprives us of any friendship with the Arab world," Arias said Wednesday.
The government of Israel expresses its regret and disappointment at the decision by the government of Costa Rica to move its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. This act, taken at this particular time, is liable to be interpreted as giving in to terrorism and awarding its perpetrators.So are American Jewish organizations:
Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people and nothing will change our firm stand on this subject.
“Given the fact that Costa Rica is a shining light of democracy in Latin America, this action against another democracy, Israel, is particularly painful,” David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, said in a statement Wednesday.The only other country to have its embassy in Jerusalem is El Salvador, which was the first South American country to forge strong links with Israel. It acquired the region's first jet fighters from Israel in the early 1970s, when Israel was close to the military dictatorship there. Israel continued to maintain close links to the military junta that fought, with US and Israeli backing, a long and bloody civil war against Marxist rebels throughout the 1980s. A UN report found that nearly all the human rights violations documented throughout that period were caused by paramilitary troops and allied right-wing death squads.