Malawi Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka, in a video statement during a visit to the Israeli-occupied territories on Tuesday, called the decision a “bold and significant step.”
He also hailed the controversial normalization agreements Israel recently reached with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan with US mediation.
The normalization deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. They say the deals ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.
Israel lays claim to entire Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory.
During the meeting, Israeli minister for foreign affairs Gabi Ashkenazi, for his part, praised Malawi’s decision to open a full diplomatic mission in Jerusalem al-Quds, which is expected to start operation by the summer of 2021.
“I’m sure that more African leaders will follow this decision,” he asserted.
“I would like to congratulate the Malawian government on the important decision to be the pioneer, and the first African country to establish its embassy in Jerusalem (al-Quds),” Ashkenazi added.
The landlocked Southeastern African country of Malawi has had diplomatic ties with Israel since 1964, but without opening an embassy in the occupied territories.
The embassy relocations began after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” in late 2017 and later moved his country’s embassy to the occupied city in a significant pro-Tel Aviv policy shift on Palestine.
Guatemala and Paraguay later followed in Washington’s footstep, before the latter reversed its decision just four months later.
Honduras has likewise said it aims to move its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds by the end of 2020. Brazil and the Dominican Republican are also considering such a move.