El Salvador kicks Israel in the shins, heads for Tel Aviv
For years, Israel relied on two little countries to prop up the illusion that Jerusalem was their undivided capital. But, last week Costa Rica and today El Salvador have run for the hills and the most symbolic land grab in the history of the world remains no more than a pathetic delusion propped up by a brutal military occupation.
Down a cramped alleyway, inside an unremarkable apartment building in a neighborhood that once separated Jerusalem's Jewish west from its Arab east, sits the Embassy of El Salvador, the last ambassadorial holdout in Israel's long struggle to secure global acceptance of this disputed holy city as its capital.But, some Israelis remain unperterbed. After all, by definition, delusions need not be believed by those not afflicted by it.
And now El Salvador is leaving. On Friday, El Salvador officially notified Israel's Foreign Office that its embassy would be packing off for Tel Aviv. Once it does, no country that has diplomatic relations with Israel will have an ambassador in Jerusalem.
El Salvador said it had decided to make the 40-mile trip to Tel Aviv after ''analyzing with Israel the current situation in the Middle East,'' especially in light of the recent U.N. Security Council resolution coordinating a cease-fire in neighboring Lebanon, "which seeks to promote security and greater stability.''
El Salvador, a Foreign Ministry statement said, ''recognizes and guarantees the right of the state of Israel to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders.'' But, it added, "equally, the government of El Salvador repeats its recognition of the right of a Palestinian state to exist.''
''United Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people, and nothing can change our firm stand on this subject,'' she said.Oh well. Another grand illusion bites the dust. Looking forward to the next.
The struggle over Jerusalem's diplomatic status began in earnest in 1980, when Israel passed a law declaring Jerusalem its eternal, indivisible capital. A U.N. Security Council resolution insisted that embassies leave the city to protest the unilateralism of determining the city's fate ahead of negotiating Israel's final borders.
About a dozen countries then moved their embassies to Tel Aviv, including the Netherlands, Venezuela, Chile and Haiti. But El Salvador and Costa Rica held out, and Israeli hopes were bolstered by a 1996 vote in the U.S. Congress that gave the White House a May 1999 deadline to set up an embassy in Jerusalem.
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush signed waivers delaying the controversial move, however, and now the last Jerusalem embassies are gone.
Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman said the larger significance of the change of diplomatic venue was, "It's another thing Israel lost in the war; this wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the war" with Hezbollah.