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    January 7, 2016

    Belarus Closes Embassy in Israel

    Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
    7th January, 2016


    Belarus has closed its embassy in Israel in response to similar actions of Tel Aviv, said the message from the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Dmitry Mironchik.

    "Normal diplomatic practice is that the closure of the embassy is reciprocated. We regret to confirm that the decision to close the Israeli embassy in Minsk, Belarus, was guided by the principle of reciprocity, and we're forced to take a series of measures to complete the activities of the diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv" said Mironchik.

    In turn, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said, to RIA Novosti, that the decision to close the embassy in Minsk was dictated by considerations of budget savings. According to him, the diplomatic mission will stop its work in 2016, but the exact date has not yet been approved.

    "Probably, it will take several months. The process will take place in full dialogue and cooperation with the Belarusian authorities. We operate under tight budget constraints and, unfortunately, are forced to close several offices abroad", he said.

    The representative of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry also said that the Israeli decision to close the embassy is a mistake. "We believe that the Israeli side is making a mistake by ignoring the fact that we are connected with the fate of tens of thousands of people for whom Israel and Belarus are close and native countries as well as the overall positive dynamics of bilateral relations in various spheres," he said.

    The official representative of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said "such a misstep already was accomplished by our Israeli partners in 2003 and in less than a year they fixed it."

    "We are convinced that the maintenance of relations between Belarus and Israel at the level of embassies is an objective necessity, and the resumption of their activities is a matter of time", concluded Mironchik.

    Emotional criticism was given by former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the closure of the embassy. The English-speaking member of parliament who heads an opposition party called "Israel Our Home", called the  decision a "spit in the face the whole Russian community" and links to the economy - "simply ridiculous."

    "In Israel there are about 130 thousand immigrants, immigrants from Belarus, that require the services of the Israeli embassy in Minsk. Many have friends and relatives. To issue any document, now they have to go to Moscow or Kiev. Those who intend to immigrate to Israel, those who are involved in various youth projects ... will be forced to apply for consular services at the Embassy of Israel in other countries ", the politician wrote on the social network Facebook.

    "Last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi visited MinskProbably they all understand something in politics, and they have no extra time to waste just like that," added Lieberman

    According to him, the embassy in Minsk costs the Treasury about four million shekels a year - slightly more than a million dollars. "In a huge state budget we did not find four million shekels ?? !!" - He asked the former head of the Foreign Ministry.
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