A major parliamentary and diplomatic push is underway in Liberia to open an embassy in Jerusalem this year, restoring a bilateral relationship that is rooted in the birth of the Jewish state and that would propel African-Israeli ties to a historic first.
The faith-based initiative would fulfill a 2023 pledge by the predominantly Christian West African nation to reopen its embassy in Israel. It was shuttered a half-century ago amid a cutoff in ties due to African political interests and alignments with the Arab world.
“I strongly believe and am optimistic that we will see this achieved this year,” said Liberian Rep. Moimah Briggs Mensah, who serves as the head of the Liberian Israel Allies Caucus and is leading the parliamentary initiative.
Mensah told JNS on Monday that the move had the strong support of many of her colleagues, including Liberia’s influential speaker of the House of Representatives, Johnathan K. Koffa.
She added that she would be pressing the case in a meeting with Liberian President Joseph Boakai this month, ahead of a trip to Jerusalem next month of pro-Israel lawmakers from around the world.
‘The basis of our faith’
Liberia was one of the 33 U.N. member states to vote in favor of establishing a Jewish state in 1947, and the two countries established relations in the late 1950s. The African country severed ties with the Israeli government in 1973 in response to the Yom Kippur War, but they were re-established in 1983 after a Liberian civil war.
While Israel does not have an embassy in Monrovia, it has an ambassador to Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Last year, then-Liberian President George Weah said during a visit to Jerusalem that his nation planned to open an embassy in Israel. However, the move was stalled by the Liberian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concerned over the political fallout such a move would cause among international institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations.
Dennis Nthumbi, Africa director at the Israel Allies Foundation, said on Monday, “Israel is the basis of our faith from a spiritual point of view, but we need to create a coalition of truth so that countries do not feel isolated and outweighed by international institutions who oppose us.”
He noted that Israel had made a notable push to improve relations with African countries, including Liberia, which often votes with Israel at the U.N., citing recent prominent government and business delegations.
The landmark decision by then-President Donald Trump to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018 set the stage for a trickle of additional countries to follow suit in the years since.
Five countries have their embassies in Jerusalem: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papua New Guinea.
All other countries that have ties with Israel maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv or its suburbs due to the political sensitivities of the capital city.
Before the Hamas attack in October, Paraguay, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo had also announced their intention to move their embassies to Jerusalem. The four-month-old war has delayed their openings.
“We see time and again that it is Bible-believing Christians, not countries that stand with Israel around the globe, offering both political and diplomatic support in times of peace and in times of war,” Josh Reinstein, president of the Israel Allies Foundation, said on Monday.