After days of keeping mum on the issue, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday denied that the Philippines is transferring its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Cayetano, who was not available for the past few days, said on Wednesday that the Israeli embassy itself did not ask the Philippine government to consider transferring its embassy.
“To be fair to Israel they haven’t told or asked us to transfer our embassy,” Cayetano said in a television interview.
Cayetano made the statement even as the Philippine government joined 34 other countries in abstaining from voting on the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The DFA, however, has yet to release any statement explaining its reason to abstain on the issue.
“In fact, they clarified reports to their friends that the Philippines did not communicate to them that we will transfer or not,” Cayetano said.
But in an AFP report, an Israeli public radio claimed that 10 countries, including the Philippines, Romania, and South Sudan, are considering moving their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem after talks with Israel.
Currently, all diplomatic missions are located in Tel Aviv.
“We have communicated clearly to all our friends in the Middle East that there hasn’t been any discussion or move to move our embassy from Tel Aviv,” Cayetano said.
The Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the Philippines will adhere to the Partition Plan for Palestine in the United Nations in 1947.
“The Philippines has always supported the policy of two states for two peoples as a long-term solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, consistent with our vote in favor of the Partition Plan for Palestine in the United Nations in 1947,” the DFA said.
The DFA was referring to the proposal that Palestine be partitioned into an Arab State and a Jewish State, with a special international status for the city of Jerusalem under the administrative authority of the United Nation.
On Dec. 6, United States President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He announced that he will move the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Since the announcement, the Philippines has been silent on the issue and did not comment on a series of queries from the media.
Cayetano, however, said the government needs to study the issue.
“In diplomacy, unless there is an urgent situation, you don’t just take a blind giant leap. You study all of these. There’s going to be a balancing act,” Cayetano said.
“Plus, there’s so much history and context there,” he added.
Cayetano also hinted on the reason why the Philippines voted to abstain on the issue, saying that “the Philippines always believed in sovereignty”.
“We don’t want any country to tell us where we can or can’t put an embassy so we can’t condemn the US for making that decision,” he said.
The decision was made due to “a big part of our foreign policy is the 10 million Filipinos abroad” majority of which are based in the Middle East.
“That’s why being friends to all and an enemy to none is very important,” he said. “Some people will see abstain or not voting not a principled vote. But sometimes that is the principled vote.