Report: Romania to break ranks with EU by moving embassy to Jerusalem

Romania's Social Democtratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea speaks to reporters on 10 October 2017. [Robert Ghement/EPA/EFE]

The Romanian government will follow the United States and transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) leader said Thursday (19 April).

“The decision has been taken (…), the procedures are beginning,” Liviu Dragnea told Antena 3 television ahead of any official government announcement.

According to Dragnea, PSD Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă’s government agreed Wednesday on “the start of procedures with a view to the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem.”

Dragnea is seen as Romania’s strong man. He is barred from public office because of an electoral fraud conviction, but it’s him who calls the shots as head of the ruling party.

Romanian anti-graft prosecutors charge head of ruling party

Romania’s National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has charged Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD), on suspicion of forming a ‘criminal group’ to funnel European Union funds, after an investigation by the EU’s anti-corruption body OLAF.

Last January Dragnea designated Dăncilă for Prime Minister However, in terms of foreign policy, the president Klaus Iohannis, who is at odds with the socialists, has strong prerogatives.

Romania’s backbencher MEP Viorica Dăncilă to be Prime Minister

Romania’s ruling Social Democrats on Tuesday (16 January) put forward European Parliament lawmaker Viorica Dăncilă to become prime minister, after power struggles within the party forced out the second premier in seven months.

The government spokesman refused to comment when questioned by AFP, although rumours of an intended move from Tel Aviv leaked out last December.

President Donald Trump’s call to shift the US embassy to the disputed city sparked deadly protests and 128 states condemned it in a United Nations General Assembly vote in December.

Only seven smaller countries aligned themselves with the United States and Israel. The EU has expressed serious concern after Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Romania would be the first EU member to follow in US footsteps.

EU seriously concerned about Trump's Jerusalem decision

The European Union expressed serious concern on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it could have repercussions for peace prospects.

Trump has mooted a trip to Jerusalem to open the embassy in May.

Dragnea noted the “enormous symbolic value” of a move saying Israel “has a strong international influence” and it would be “very valuable for the American administration.”

“I think the decision will produce major benefits for Romania,” he added.

“This is also a pragmatic approach. Like all of us, Israel has the right to establish its capital where it wants,” Dragnea said.

He had first mooted the transfer late last year but Romania’s centre right President Klaus Iohannis opposed it saying the status of Jerusalem should be settled between Israel and the Palestinians who both claim the holy city as their capital.

Romania will hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 January 2019.

Subscribe to our newsletters