Wednesday, 16 March, the Prime Minister’s office issued an official statement that the Israeli Embassy in Minsk will continue to work.
«Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to close the Israeli Embassy in Minsk (Belaus)», — stated in the message of the press service.
«This decision was taken after series of consultations with leaders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the Minister Elkin,» — noted in the office of the Prime Minister. «The Prime Minister considers it important to maintain diplomatic representation in this country,» said surrounded by Netanyahu.
Last week social media was spread the information that the decision to close the Israeli Embassy in Minsk.
Editorial NEWSru.co.il asked for comment on this issue in the press service of the Foreign Ministry of Israel, where we were informed that «we have made a decision to maintain the mission of Israel in Minsk, but currently it is unknown in what format and composition it will work.»
According to the representative of the foreign Ministry, «weighed the different options: maybe it will be the Consulate, there may be a group of diplomats active in the cultural mission». Our interlocutor noted that «at present too early to give public comments on this issue». The speaker of the Foreign Ministry added that «the final decision will be made in the near future».
That the Israeli Embassy in Minsk can be closed, it became known in August last year, the day after the Israeli government approved the abolition of visas with Belarus. 26 November 2015 visa-free regime entered into force.
The decision to close the Israeli Embassy in Minsk has drawn sharp criticism from former foreign Minister and leader of the party «Our home Israel» of Avigdor Lieberman. «The closure of the Embassy in Minsk is a completely crazy move, both from the point of view of the political, and from the point of view of state interests. This will cause Israel severe damage in the international arena and a great harm to relations with the Republic of Belarus. Since Netanyahu took the post of foreign Minister, he should know that such acts are in diplomatic practice, bilateral, and Belarus, respectively, will close its Embassy in Israel,» said Lieberman January 6.
The head of the party NDI noted that in Israel lives 130 thousand natives of Belarus. «For them, the closure of the Embassy will create serious difficulties, as for Belarusian Jews who want to emigrate to Israel or are in need of consular services. Besides, these are often elderly people, many of whom are world war II veterans or Holocaust survivors,» said Lieberman. He also recalled that the decision to open the Israeli Embassy was made by Yitzhak Shamir, and subsequently implemented by Yitzhak Rabin’s government in which Shimon Peres was appointed Foreign Minister.
As previously reported, the Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Israel Vladimir Skvortsov said in an interview with Knesset member Constantine Razvozov («Yesh Atid») that «activity of the diplomatic mission of the Republic of Belarus in Israel will be fully completed by the summer, if Israel does not change its decision to close its Embassy in this state».
Editorial NEWSru.co.il in January, the Ambassador of Belarus Vladimir Skvortsov commented: «the Decision of the government of Israel about the closure of the Embassy in Minsk, which we were officially informed through diplomatic channels last week, of course, cannot but cause us frustration. The intention of the Cabinet to reduce the number of Israeli diplomatic missions in various countries for financial reasons, as it is known, was first announced in August 2015, but then the final list was not formed. And we, like a number of our Israeli counterparts, assumed that this measure due to a number of reasons end up not dealing with the Embassy in our country. In support of this approach, said the actual state of bilateral relations, demonstrated in recent years positive dynamics and assessment of the parties, their future prospects and the role of both embassies of Israel in Minsk and Belarus in tel Aviv – building a constructive dialogue between our countries. Thus ended the year proved to be one of the most intense and fruitful collaboration. Only in the last two months, working closely, we were able to implement such significant events on the bilateral agenda, as Ministerial political consultations at the level of Deputy Minister, the launch of a visa-free regime for mutual trips of citizens, opening of a memorable sign to the Belarusian people’s poet Yanka Kupala in Ashdod, approval of the draft Protocol to the Framework of the financial agreement and the date of its signing. A strong argument for the continuation of Israel’s diplomatic presence in Minsk was the fact that in Belarus there are one of the largest Jewish communities in the post-Soviet space, which, by the way, and from the authorities, and in society we have a very friendly and positive. In Israel, in turn, the lives of more than 130 thousand people from our country who have made a significant contribution to the formation and development of the Jewish state, and a number of them have taken leading positions in its governing structures. Obviously, the decision by the Cabinet about the fate of the Israeli Embassy in our capital city are outweighed by other arguments – the economic and financial. Of course, we and our Israeli colleagues-diplomats have an understanding of the need to do everything we can to keep this level of interaction while minimizing the negative effects of the situation. At the same time, we realize that the rejection of such an important channel of intergovernmental communication, which are the embassies that do not affect the intensity of bilateral cooperation in different spheres. Obviously, this move will hamper cooperation between the business communities, will deprive many citizens of their ability to obtain consular services, not only ischerpyvayuschie the issuance of visas, will create serious difficulties in protecting the interests of those who, being in the partner country, will get into an unforeseen situation. The Ambassador also noted: «Characteristically, the precedent of the closure of the Israeli Embassy in Belarus for the same reasons – for financial reasons had already taken place in 2003. But then less than a year later was played back and the activities of the diplomatic mission resumed. And today, as twelve years earlier, Belarus is the initiator of this diplomatic act, which we consider erroneous and does not take into account the existing realities. It was absolutely not our choice. In the circumstances, the Minsk sees no other choice but to curtail the operation of its Embassy in tel Aviv, based solely on the principle of reciprocity. I hope that the level of effective cooperation and understanding, achieved in recent years between the two countries and peoples, the serious potential for its increase, as well as the perception of the decision as adopted in the public and the media are the Israeli partners sufficient to again thoroughly examine the logic and reasonableness».