00:48 GMT +313 December 2019
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    A general view of The Dome of the Rock Mosque at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known by the Jews as the Temple Mount, seen from the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem. (File)

    'We Love Israel': Faroe Islands Defy Denmark With Plan to Set Up Embassy in Jerusalem

    © AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis
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    So far, only the United States and Guatemala have located their Israeli embassies in Jerusalem. The Faroe Islands, a tiny Atlantic nation, is reportedly at pains to join them.

    The Faroe Islands, an autonomous part of the Danish Realm north of Scotland, has voiced plans to base its representation in Israel in Jerusalem, which clearly goes against Copenhagen's wishes.

    According to the Faroese Foreign Minister, Jenis av Rana, his nation of 50,000 is working “at full speed” to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Jenis av Rana justified this step by citing the islands' Christian faith.

    “The Faroe Islands love Israel,” he said, as quoted by Danish Radio. “Probably 90 percent of those I meet tell me to go on with the embassy,” he added.

    Choosing Jerusalem over Tel Aviv would clearly defy the wishes of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, despite the fact that she earlier this year voiced her enthusiasm over “more elbow room” for the Faroes' and Greenland's own foreign policy, even in areas “where they don't fully agree”.

    However, pertaining to Israel, she stressed that Denmark and its constituents must follow “the European line”, which is to keep diplomatic representations in Tel Aviv.

    Jenis av Rana argued that this is the perfect case to test Frederiksen's stance on “elbow room”.

    “It is an opportunity she has to show what she thinks about the government's new policy. We are very excited about that.

    Cracks in the Danish realm?

    Hans Mouritzen, senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, suggested it was extremely unusual for a member of the realm to defy the common line, not least on such a delicate topic as Jerusalem. Mouritzen suggested this step may have a divisive effect.

    “If the Faroe Islands and Greenland no longer accept that foreign policy is brought from Copenhagen, it will mean cracks in the realm”, he ventured.

    Later, however, the leader of the Faroese parliament, Bárður á Steig Nielsen admitted to Danish Radio that while the Faroe Islands indeed plans to open an embassy in Israel, it doesn't intend to split the realm and pursue the move to Jerusalem on its own. He also stressed that the plans are yet at an early stage.

    The Faroe Islands is a North Atlantic archipelago located northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark alongside Greenland and has a population of over 50,000 inhabitants.

    The islands suffered considerable economic difficulties following the collapse of the fishing industry in the early 1990s, and have been at pains to diversify the economy. In the recent years, support for independence has grown. Currently, four parties from both the left and the right support independence from Denmark.

    Only two embassies in Jerusalem

    There are currently over 80 embassies in Israel, of which only two are located in Jerusalem, the US and Guatemala; the rest located in Tel Aviv.

    Paraguay briefly moved its embassy to Jerusalem, but returned to Tel Aviv after only a few months.

    Brazil, Honduras, Moldova and Romania have pondered moving their embassies to Jerusalem as well.


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