Costa Rica Denies Report on Moving Embassy in Israel

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Fernando Naranjo this week dismissed a published report that his country plans to move its embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem.

“We are not thinking of changing its site,” Naranjo said Monday. “It stays in Jerusalem.”

Last week, U.S. News & World Report said Costa Rica would pull its embassy out of Jerusalem in hopes of securing Arab support in its attempts to obtain a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Naranjo has been campaigning for Costa Rica to take over the rotating seat on the Security Council now held by Honduras when the seat becomes vacant at the end of the year.

Last year, despite personal lobbying by Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres, a grouping of lesser-developed nations known as the Non-Aligned Movement rejected Costa Rican membership when Arab nations objected to the presence of the Costa Rican Embassy in Jerusalem.

Naranjo said this week that he had not seen the published report, but said Costa Rica would “absolutely” not move its embassy, chuckling at the suggestion it would.

In 1982, then-Costa Rican President Luis Alberto Monge moved his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move denounced by Arab nations, which deny Israel’s claim to the city as its capital.

Costa Rica and El Salvador are the only countries that have embassies in Jerusalem. The rest maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Monge’s decision was influenced by the Rev. Benjamin Nunez, who served twice as Costa Rican ambassador to Israel before his death in 1994.

Nunez’s son, Rodrigo Carreras, the deputy foreign minister of Costa Rica, said in an interview that the embassy in Jerusalem would stay put.

“As long as I am deputy foreign minister and Fernando Naranjo is foreign minister, the embassy will not move,” he said, “There is no reason to move it.”

Carreras said his country would make no decision on the future of its embassy in Jerusalem until Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resolve the future status of Jerusalem, a decision he said would not be reached until 2005.

NEXT STORY