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Belarus closes its embassy in Israel following diplomatic practice

Necessary action based on principle of mutuality

Belarus closes its embassy in Israel following diplomatic practice.

Taking into consideration Israel’s decision to close its embassy in Minsk, Belarus has taken a range of measures to complete its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv being guided by the principle of mutuality, comments the Head of the Information Department and Press Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Belarus, Dmitry Mironchik, in view of the closure of the Israeli and Belarusian embassies to Minsk and Tel Aviv.

‘The usual diplomatic practice is that the closing of an embassy is reciprocated in the same way. We have to sadly confirm that in view of Israel’s decision to close its embassy in Minsk, Belarus, guided by the principle of mutuality, has to adopted a range of measures aiming to complete its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv,’ said the Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry of Belarus is convinced that the Israelis are making a mistake, ignoring the fact that the countries are connected by the fates of thousands of people for whom Israel and Belarus are close, as well as the positive dynamics of bilateral relations in various spheres. 

The Foreign Ministry hopes that it will only be a matter of time before the renewal of relations between Belarus and Israel at diplomatic level.

The Jerusalem Post edition informs us that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has announced its intention to close five out of its 106 diplomatic missions. In particular, the Israeli embassies to Belarus and Salvador will close their doors, in addition to several consulates in the USA and France. According to the newspaper, the Foreign Ministry’s statement reads that representations will be closed in line with government decisions made last year. The funds released as a consequence will be spent to improve other embassies.

Last year, the information appeared in the Israeli media that, for budgetary reasons, the government has decided to close a range of its diplomatic missions abroad, including in Belarus. The Israeli Embassy to Minsk said that they hadn’t an official notification from their government regarding this and the then Ambassador, Yosef Shagal, described these as rumours and refused to comment. However, his mission closed on August 31st, 2015, and the new ambassador hasn’t yet been appointed.

The former Foreign Minister of Israel and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party, Avigdor Lieberman, sharply criticised the decision to close the embassy in Minsk. The politician believes that ‘this is a completely crazy step from a political point of view and from the point of view of state interests’. According to him, this will be a heavy blow for Israel in the international arena and will cause colossal damage to its relations with the Republic of Belarus. Mr. Lieberman reminded us that over 130,000 Belarus-born residents live in Israel and stressed that the closing of the embassy will create serious difficulties for them, as well as for Belarusian Jews who would like to repatriate to Israel or need consular services. Mr. Lieberman’s statement was released on the official website of his party.

Previously, in 2003, Israel closed its embassy in Belarus because of financial reasons. However, in 2005, the diplomatic mission was restored. During this time, Belarusians who were visiting Israel had to use the services of the Israeli embassy to Russia, while ex-Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, who is now in opposition to the current government, has recently noted that after the closure of the embassy, relations between Israel and Belarus were severely affected.

Since the end of 2015, a bilateral visa free regime has been operating between Belarus and Israel.

By Vladimir Mikhailovsky

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