Originally published in The Jerusalem Post
Malawi plans to open an embassy in Israel and place it in Jerusalem, making it the first African state to do so, Malawian Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka announced yesterday during a visit to Israel.
Malawi, which does not have an embassy in Israel, plans to open one by next summer, he said.
Malawi is a “pioneer,” and the decision is “further proof of the ties between the country and the widening of the circle of peace,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.
“Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, will be a bridge of peace for the whole world, and I call on more countries to follow in Malawi’s path and move their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” he said.
The United States and Guatemala are the only countries that have embassies in Jerusalem, although several other others have said they would open one, including Brazil, Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Honduras, Moldova, Romania and the Czech Republic.
Since its founding in 1964, Malawi is one of the few African states with which Israel has had continuous diplomatic relations. It has provided Malawi with aid, especially in agriculture, for many years.
In a joint statement, Ashkenazi committed to have an Israeli development expert posted in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, and to introduce courses for Malawi from MASHAV, the Foreign Ministry’s development agency.
Welcoming Malawi’s embassay decision, Rowan Polovin, national chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, says in a statement released today: “Malawi is the first African state to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital. This contrasts with South Africa, which currently has only a chargé d’affaires as its highest-ranking officer in Israel — not an ambassador — at our embassy in Tel Aviv — not in Jerusalem.
“South Africa is geographically and diplomatically close to Malawi, and we encourage Pretoria to embrace change and warm up to the changing landscape in Africa and the Middle East. Sudan in North Africa recently signed a normalisation agreement with Israel and, with Malawi’s move, we are excited to see a positive trend towards warming ties between Israel and African states.”