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Zaire Appears to Be Reconsidering Opening Its Embassy in Jerusalem

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Zaire, offering “clarifications” for its decision to resume diplomatic relations with Israel, appeared today to back away from its earlier commitment to open its embassy in Jerusalem.

Kamanda wa Kamanda, Zaire’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement at a press conference that in restoring ties with Israel “Zaire has never taken any decision regarding the possible establishment of its embassy in Jerusalem.

He also declared that “Zaire’s traditional position, particularly its constant support for the Arab Palestinian cause, is not called into question by the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel.”

Kamanda said that his country, which is a member of the Security Council, “is aware of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly on Jerusalem and has never contemplated any action contrary to those resolutions.” (Zaire’s Ambassador to Belgium, Kengo wa Dondo, said in Brussels today that the embassy would be in Tel Aviv.)

Kamanda’s statement was contrary to an announcement made in Jerusalem last Sunday by a special emissary of President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire that its embassy would be located in the Israeli capital.

ZAIRE CONTINUES TO RECOGNIZE THE PLO

The Zaire envoy to the UN said that when his government decided on May 14, to restore its ties with Israel, it notified the Arab ambassadors in Kinshasha that Zaire fully recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization and “continues (its) support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the creation of a Palestinian state in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

Kinshasha also explained to the Arab ambassadors, the envoy said, that Zaire broke its diplomatic ties with Israel in 1973 as a result of the occupation of part of the territory of Egypt which is a member state of the Organization for African Unity (OAU). He added. “The restoration of diplomatic relations (with Israel) takes into account the return of Sinai to Egypt on April 25, 1982 and secondly the restoration (sic) of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel.”

Kamanda said, “From Kinshasha’s viewpoint, this decision is part of the search for a negotiated global, just and lasting solution to the Middle East crisis which implies both recognition of Israel’s right to existence by all members of the UN and recognition of the right of the Arab people of Palestine to have a homeland, to exist and to organize itself within an independent and sovereign state.”

Arab reaction was prompt and predictable to Zaire’s announcement of its restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel and its earlier indication that it would open its embassy in Jerusalem. Saudi Arabia yesterday broke diplomatic relations with Mobutu’s government, charging that it had acted contrary to the wishes of its own people, world opinion, the United Nations and other international bodies. Earlier in the day, the Khartoum-based Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa announced it was suspending all activities in Zaire.

Saudi Arabia’s severance of ties with Zaire is expected to influence other Arab states in the Persian Gulf region and could have economic repercussions for the Central African nation. Saudi Arabia is a major contributor of funds to banks that channel aid to developing countries. The Khartoum bank is one of those channels. Zaire is reported to owe the bank $36.8 million borrowed last year.

Arab influence appeared to have scored today when President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia assured Arab leaders that his country had no intention of emulating Zaire by restoring ties with Israel. Kaunda made his announcement during a tour of Kuwait, Iraq and Bahrein, all major oil producers on which Zambia is heavily dependent for energy.

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