Romania’s president wants PM out over Israel embassy move

Klaus Iohannis says PM didn’t consult him before endorsing secret plan to move Romania’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

President Iohannis, right, had complained that Dancila failed to consult him on foreign policy matter [AP]

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis demanded Prime Minister Viorica Dancila resign, over a reported dispute on the plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Mrs Dancila cannot cope with the office of Prime Minister of Romania and turns the Government into vulnerability for Romania,” Iohannis said in a statement on Friday. 

“Thus, I publicly request the resignation of Mrs Dancila from the office of Premier.”

Earlier on Friday, Iohannis summoned Dancila to a meeting at the president’s official residence, the Cotroceni Palace. But in an “unprecedented” move, she refused to meet the president, according to the Romania Journal.

Iohannis had complained that Dancila failed to consult him on a “secret memorandum on foreign policy” in violation of the country’s constitution.

“The Constitution reads that all decisions, for Romania’s interest, should have an institutional consultation between the Premier and the President,” his statement said.

According to reports, the “secret memorandum” covers a plan to move Romania’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.   

On Thursday, Iohannis had said he expected an explanation from Dancila regarding her visit to Israel, which he said had no mandate from the presidency.

“I have never heard any Romanian premier to go to a visit abroad and to announce it late in the evening, before leaving, without revealing the agenda, without anyone knowing what she is doing out there,” his statement said.  

“Anyone can go on a tourist visit, anytime, but when the person who leads the government is the one going, more should be known,” the head of state added.

Iohannis belongs to the centre-right, while the government is led by the ruling left-wing Social Democrat party.

On April 20, the ruling Social Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea announced that the Romanian government approved a memorandum to move its embassy to Jerusalem.  

Dragnea, speaker of the chamber of deputies, who joined Prime Minister Dancila in her visit to Israel, denied reports that its move has been finally decided. 

But he was also quoted as saying that at a time when the US and Israel need support, “it will count enormously and it will never be forgotten” if Romania expresses its support to the two nations. 

Dancila has yet to comment on the president’s call.

According to Reuters news agency, the Romanian foreign ministry said the memorandum was the start of a wider consultation process. The ministry added that Romania’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “has traditionally been a balanced one, including … bilaterally recognising the Palestinian state”. 

In December, US President Donald Trump announced that his administration will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy to the city.

The announcement was met with controversy and protests, as part of Jerusalem is also being envisioned as the future capital of a Palestinian state.

It has been reported that following Trump’s announcement, other states have also considered moving their embassies to Jerusalem. 

If Romania decides to move its embassy to Jerusalem, it will be the first European Union state to do so.

Source: Al Jazeera