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Set to become sixth nation to open Jerusalem embassy, Congolese president announces

Félix Tshisekedi – a devout Christian – informs Netanyahu during meeting on the sidelines of UNGA

Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Sept. 21, 2023. (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the United Nations in New York that the African country intends to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital Jerusalem.

Israel will reciprocate the political move by reopening its embassy in the Congolese capital Kinshasa. Israel previously maintained an embassy in Congo until in 2003 when it was closed during the civil war.

Netanyahu welcomed the diplomatic breakthrough in a joint statement with the Congolese leader. 

"We've just had very productive talks with the president of Congo, and we agreed that Israel will open an embassy in Kinshasa and Congo will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. These are two good announcements and I think they reflect our common desire to upgrade our relations," Netanyahu said

Tshisekedi confirmed the news of the embassies and expressed a strong interest in cultivating closer security ties with Israel. 

"I confirm that we had excellent discussions with the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu. And the discussions covered - excellent relations that we have and how to reinforce those relations. And those exchanges also covered the way we could come closer to Israel by developing more projects, in security, cybersecurity and so on. And in order to emphasize that, the State of Israel has agreed to open its embassy in Kinshasa, and on the other end, the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

Strategically located in the heart of the African continent, Congo was a Belgian colony until it gained its independence in 1960. Covering a vast area of more than 2.3 million square kilometers (about 888,000 square miles, the Democratic Republic of Congo is larger than the combined territory of Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain and Italy put together. In addition, Congo has a growing population of over 110 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in Africa and the world.

While DR Congo is a poor developing economy, its growing global significance is attributed to its vast deposits of rare minerals and could, therefore, potentially reduce the Western world’s high dependence on China for rare minerals. For instance, the country has emerged as the largest African producer of cobalt and copper. 

Beyond politics and pragmatic national interests, the Congolese president is a devout Christian and Zionist with a strong personal connection to Israel and the Holy Land.

In October 2021, Tshisekedi visited Israel and toured biblical sites, including Capernaum, located near the Sea of Galilee. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog who at the time hosted the Congolese president in Jerusalem, stressed the great potential for Congolese-Israeli bilateral ties. 

“There is tremendous potential for collaboration between Israel and you and your country, and we shall do everything to bring a blessing for all of us,” Herzog said

Millions of Christian Africans support the Jewish state and pray for its well-being. It is therefore a strategic interest for Israel to upgrade and cultivate bilateral ties with DR Congo, a large and increasingly important African state led by a Christian Zionist president. 

DR Congo will join a growing list of countries that have moved their embassy to Jerusalem, the latest being Papua New Guinea which made its move earlier this month.

Under the leadership of former U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. finally fulfilled its 1995 promise to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo - the only Muslim country to do so – followed the U.S. move.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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