After the Czech Republic, Bulgaria will be the second country to open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced at his Sunday cabinet meeting that Bulgaria will open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem very soon.
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov decided on the step when he visited Israel earlier this month.
In doing so, Sofia will be following in the footsteps of Prague. The Czech Republic reopened its honorary consulate in Jerusalem at the end of May after a hiatus of 18 months caused by the death of its previous honorary consul, Israeli-Czech journalist Tatiana Hoffman.
However, unlike the Czechs, who according to their new consul see the move as focusing more on economic issues, the Bulgarian prime minister views this legation as having a broader mandate, the prime minister said.
Borisov, he noted, “took care to explain to me in our conversation that this consulate will not only deal with Bulgarian matters in Jerusalem, but with Bulgarian issues all over Israel.”
Although he certainly welcomed the decision, Netanyahu told his counterpart that he hoped it would “lead to the swift opening of the official full Bulgarian embassy in Jerusalem.”
This is not an option right now, however, as Bulgaria has clarified – just as the Czechs did a few weeks ago. Both have toed the EU line that embassies will not be moved without the issue of Jerusalem first being resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
In favor of Israel, the Czech Foreign Ministry has gone as far as saying that it recognizes pre-1967 western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And Borisov did strike a very friendly tone on his visit in mid-June to address the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum.
“We are convinced that the Jewish people’s relation to Jerusalem is indisputable and are not indifferent to the wish of the Jewish population of Israel and of the Jewry in the world and to the right of Israel, being a sovereign state, to decide which city will be its capital and to insist that it be internationally recognized,” he said.
On the other hand, Bulgaria was also one of the 128 countries that opposed US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December by supporting a UN General Assembly resolution that condemned the decision, called it “null and void” and demanded that it be rescinded. The Czech Republic abstained.
Israel and Bulgaria have historically friendly ties and a growing economic relationship. Netanyahu visited Sofia just a few months before Borisov came to Jerusalem, and the Bulgarians expressed interest then in gaining from Israel’s experience in the fields of information technology, cyber security, science and education. The two countries are also cooperating in counter-terrorism activities.
Netanyahu met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Jerusalem in March.