Costa Rican President Oscar Sanchez Arias said at the end of his first 100 days in office, that he had decided to fix a historical injustice and relocate his country’s embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Costa Rica is one of only two countries who have decided to locate their embassies in Jerusalem, the second country being El Salvador.
Costa Rica placed its embassy in Jerusalem in 1982, and according to President Arias, his state has been isolated throughout the Arab world ever since. According to a United Nations decision, Jerusalem has never been recognized as the official capital of Israel. He arrived at the decision that this historical mistake must be corrected in order for Costa Rica to improve its status among the Arab and Muslim world.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres called the Costa Rican President and tried to dissuade him from his decision, but Arias rejected the request.
President Arias clarified that the decision to move the embassy to Tel Aviv is not an unfriendly step towards Israel and it is not even a protest against the war in Lebanon or with the Palestinians. “As far as I am concerned, Israel’s right to exist free of any security threat, especially terrorism, is not in doubt. This is not a step intended to hurt Israel, but a step intended to honor international law,” he said.
Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said that the decision was received with surprise and regret. This is an unfriendly act by a friendly country in a time that is very problematic for Israel.