A severe diplomatic crisis is brewing between Israel and El Salvador, as the latter is not happy with the former’s decision to close down its embassy in San Salvador as part of a decision to eliminate five embassies altogether as a belt-tightening measure, Ynet reported. El Salvador is considering a retaliatory step — moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Ramallah, inside the Palestinian Authority. This may be the most creative—and effective—diplomatic maneuver against the Jewish State this year. It also marks yet another Latin American country with whom the Netanyahu government is feuding (Brazil is another).
The Salvadoran foreign ministry sent Israel a stern message saying the Central American republic was shocked, dismayed and surprised by the proposed step. They were particularly hurt by the fact that they found out about it in the press, rather than receive a proper advance notice through diplomatic channels. There’s more: El Salvador had apparently been so interested in improving relations with Israel, it sent a senior official, the foreign office’s former director Werner Matias Romero, to serve as its new ambassador to Israel to enhance the friendship and cooperation.
The insulted Romero said he was still hoping Israel would reverse the decision, warning that otherwise it would “open a Pandora’s box,” adding, “What Israel has done is bite the friendly hand we extended to her. That’s not a way to treat your friends. This could definitely bolster the element in El Salvador who are opposed to our ties with Israel.”
Romero also reminded his hosts of the fact that El Salvador voted in favor of the 1947 UN Partition Plan; José Castellanos, a Salvadoran diplomat, saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust—and was recognized by Yad Vashem, and El Salvador even kept its embassy in Jerusalem for a couple of decades—until the second Lebanon war.
According to Ynet, it costs Israel about a million dollars a year to keep each embassy open. This may turn out to be an acceptable cost of doing business, when the alternative is seeing the Salvadoran embassy be consolidated with the Cairo mission, or, even worse, reopening in Ramallah, forcing Israeli visa seekers to armor their cars first before applying.
Israel is also planning to close its embassy in Minsk, to be followed by the closing down of the Belarus mission to Tel Aviv. Now, that’s something that would not have happened while Minister Avigdor Lieberman was in charge.