Malawi Will Be First African Country in Decades to Open Embassy in Jerusalem

Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera / Getty Images
November 5, 2020

Malawi's foreign minister announced at a press conference Tuesday that his country will build its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem, the first African nation to do so in decades. 

The placement in Jerusalem represents "a bold and significant step" in the relationship between Malawi and Israel, said Malawian foreign minister Eisenhower Mkaka, who sees a "need for growing partnership and cooperation between the two countries."

Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi was also optimistic about Israel's future relations with African countries.

"I look forward to your embassy opening soon, and I'm sure that more African leaders will follow this decision," Ashkenazi said, standing alongside Mkaka at the press conference.

Malawi has been a stalwart Israeli ally in a region in which the Jewish state has historically had few partners. The east African country has continuously had diplomatic ties with Israel since 1964, although it has never before had an Israeli embassy.

After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, 16 other African countries closed their embassies in Jerusalem, with some later reopening in Tel Aviv.

Malawi's announcement makes it the first African country to open a Jerusalem embassy since then.

The African Union charged that Malawi's decision could threaten peace in the Middle East, a claim of which Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera and his staff are skeptical.

"Malawi has had very warm and cordial relations with various nations in the Arab world," said Chakwera communications director Sean Kampondeni. "President Chakwera continues to advocate for the same in the interest of peace in the region."

The move is just the latest in a string of Israeli diplomatic successes, many of which were mediated by the Trump administration.

In October, Sudan joined Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as Muslim-majority countries that have normalized ties with Israel.

In exchange for normalization with the United States and Israel, Sudan, once a state supporter of terrorism, has agreed to crack down on terrorist groups within its borders.

The Trump administration hopes the diplomatic agreements will open the door to normalizing relations between Israel and even more countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Published under: Africa , Israel , Malawi