Malawi confirms it will open first African embassy in Jerusalem

Malawi foreign minister Eisenhower Mkaka says Abraham Accords have a positive effect on Israel’s relations with Africa.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Malawi’s foreign minister confirmed Tuesday that his country will become the first African nation to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka gave his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi a message from Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera according to which Malawi intends to open a permanent embassy in Israel and establish it in Jerusalem by the summer of 2021.

At a press conference following their meeting, Mkaka told reporters that Israel and Malawi have “shared values of prosperity and peace,” noting that although Malawi only now decided to establish its first embassy in Israel, the countries having had diplomatic relations since 1964.

Chakwera announced the embassy decision in September.

“Malawi will be the first African country to establish its embassy in Jerusalem. This is further testament to the expansion of the circle of peace and recognition of Israel and its capital Jerusalem,” Ashkenazi said.

“I call on other countries to follow Malawi’s example and transfer their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” he said.

For its part, a Foreign Ministry statement said Israel will increase bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture, tourism, investment technology, education and trade.

Mkaka said the Abraham Accords that Israel recently signed with the UAE and Bahrain would “have an effect on Israel’s relations on countries in Africa.”

Chakwera, a Christian with a PhD in theology, became president in June. Christians make up over three quarters of Malawi’s 21 million people. Chakwera visited Israel in November 2019, posting pictures of himself on social media in Jerusalem’s Old City during his private trip and saying he “spent some time praying for our beautiful country.”

Questioned in Malawi’s parliament last month by an opposition member about why Malawi should open an embassy in Israel despite a UN resolution that urges its members to avoid recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Chakwera, according to The Times of Malawi, replied that he “conducts foreign policy for the primary benefit of the nation and its citizens.”

“Israel is among our strongest partners, having established our diplomatic relations in 1964,” Chakwera said. “The idea of re-energizing the existing relations with Israel and establishing residential diplomatic missions should not be regarded as something new in our foreign policy.”

The Times report said Chakwera also told parliament that “Malawi is a sovereign state in a global village and…the decision on whom the country is associated with are matters of national interest.”

The landlocked nation in the southern half of the continent is one of the world’s poorest, with a per capita earning hovering around only $1,000 per year.

Israel is currently home to 89 foreign embassies, but only the U.S. and Guatemala have located their embassies in Israel’s capital, with the remainder being in Tel Aviv.

Although Serbia and Kosovo also had announced their intention to establish embassies in Jerusalem, the UAE and Bahrain are not expected to join them and will most likely put their new embassies in Tel Aviv.