By Tione Andsen, MANA
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eisenhower Mkaka has denied that Malawi has being influenced to open an embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, saying Malawi is a sovereign state that makes its own decision without being influenced by any external forces.
He made the denial Saturday on arrival from Jerusalem where he went at the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, Gabi Ashkenazi.
Mkaka said Israel and USA had no hand in the decision to open the Malawian mission in Jerusalem, saying when the issue was first made in Parliament by President Lazarus Chakwera, Israel was not contacted on the development.
He said it was not the entire Jerusalem which is being contested, rather it was eastern part where Palestinians claim to be part of their land.
Mkaka said the Malawi mission would be in western Jerusalem where all three arms of government of Israel are.
On November 4, Hanan Jarrar, special envoy to the Palestine president, Mahmoud Abbas announced his visit to President Chakwera and presented a letter as regards to the plans for Malawi to open the full embassy in Israel that was to do with status of Jerusalem.
The Palestine statement reminded Chakwera that UN “Security Council resolution 476 (1980), recently reaffirmed by Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), decided not to recognise any action that seeks to alter the character and status of Jerusalem specifically called upon all States ‘that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City’.
“Under international last, East Jerusalem (including the Old City and it’s holy sites) are not legally part of Israel.
“Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, the US and international community have refused to recognise the sovereignty of any country to any part of Jerusalem in the absence of a permanent Arab-Israel peace agreement.
“SADC Member State, South Africa continues to raise the issue of Israel’s occupation of Palestine at the United Nations, whilst other African countries seemingly buckled under pressure to establish formal relations with Israel.
“The Palestinian President Special Envoy to Malawi concurs with other nations that any step taken by the Republic of Malawi to establish its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem constitutes a violation of relevant United Nations resolutions,” the Palestine statement had said.
But Mkaka said: “Malawi being party to international conventions, protocols and instruments will always respect them. We will always remain committed to respecting the independence of any state.”
He said Malawi and Israel established their diplomatic relations in 1964 and Israel had an Embassy in Lilongwe which was closed in 1994 after multiparty general elections.
He said the bilateral relations between the two countries have remained cordial all these years and the two have cooperated in a number of areas for the mutual benefit of the people of the two nations.
He said it was pleasing to note that Israel was one of the countries that supported Malawi’s candidature to Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Luckie Sikwese said every country has a right to solicit support form members states when vying for a seat in an organization.
He said if a country gets more support from the member states shows that it has trust confidence from them.
Meanwhile, Mkaka announced that the Israeli Government has undertaken to increase the number of beneficiaries to 200 per year from 40 for advanced agriculture technologies training.
He said currently 40 students from Natural Resources College (NRC) go to Israel annually to have hands-on training for use of advanced agriculture technologies and upon return students are expected to start their own farming activities.
He said the two governments agreed to closely work together in resettling the students and that the government of Malawi would facilitate essential elements of the programme including land identification.
“At the end of their 11 months training, the students are provided with a startup capital of US$10,000. The initiative in line with government policy of creating 1 million jobs among the youth in the country,” Mkaka said.
He added that the two countries discussed several issues of mutual interest and agreed to continue our cooperation in agriculture.
One of them is that Israel is committed to send an agriculture expert who would be attached to Ministry of Agriculture to support the implementation of the internship programme.
He said Israel has offered another 75 scholarships to Malawians to be trained in various fields.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express