Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday denied that the Philippines is transferring its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying Israel never asked the government to consider such move.
“To be fair to Israel they haven’t told or asked us to transfer our embassy,” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.
“In fact, they clarified reports to their friends that the Philippines did not communicate to them that we will transfer or not.”
An Israeli public radio, according to a wire report, said 10 countries, including the Philippines, Romania and South Sudan, are considering moving their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem after talks with Israel.
Transferring the embassy to Jerusalem will, in effect, recognize the city disputed by Israel and Palestine as Israel’s capital. Presently, all diplomatic missions are located in Tel Aviv.
“We have communicated clearly to all our friends in the Middle East that there hasn’t been any discussion or move to move our embassy from Tel Aviv,” Cayetano said.
The Foreign Affairs chief noted that the Philippines supports a two-state policy, adding that the country is even willing to play a role as a peacemaker.
“We are for peaceful resolution of conflict,” Cayetano said. “In diplomacy, unless there is an urgent situation, you don’t just take a blind giant leap. You study all of these. There’s going to be a balancing act.”
“Plus, there’s so much history and context there.”
The Philippines was among the 35 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote last week on US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A huge majority of UN-member states declared the US decision null and void, among them America’s Arab allies.
Cayetano defended the Philippine decision to abstain on the UN’s Jerusalem vote, saying the country “always believed in sovereignty.”
“We don’t want any country to tell us where we can or can’t put an embassy so we can’t condemn the US for making that decision,” he said.
Moreover, Cayetano stressed that “a big part of our foreign policy is the 10 million Filipinos abroad” – majority of which are based in the Middle East.
“That’s why friends to all and enemies to none is very important,” he said. “Some people will see abstain or not voting not a principled vote. But sometimes that is the principled vote.” —