Hamas urges Sierra Leone not to open embassy in Israeli occupied al-Quds
The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has urged Sierra Leone to cancel a plan to open an embassy in the Israeli-occupied city of al-Quds, urging the authorities in the West African country to align themselves with Palestinian people’s rights and just national cause.
Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanu, in a statement on Saturday, denounced the decision as an “infringement on Palestinian people’s rights and a show of support for the fascist occupation of their lands.”
“Such an unfortunate position from the government of Sierra Leone comes at a time as Israeli crimes and terrorism against our people, land, and holy sites have become more intensive than ever,” he added.
“This would give the occupying regime’s army and settlers the green light to persist in violations of [Palestinians’ rights] and expropriate more Palestinian lands, especially in occupied al-Quds,” Qanu pointed out.
He called on the Sierra Leonean government to backtrack on such a move and endorse the just Palestinian cause.
Sierra Leone has become the sixth country to pledge to open an embassy in occupied al-Quds, in a break with international consensus on the status of the sacred city.
President Julius Maada Bio committed to the move in a statement on Friday following a meeting with Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen, who appears to be making a push for more countries to move their diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv to al-Quds.
Cohen has pushed for more countries to recognize Israel or move their embassies to al-Quds, particularly among Pacific and African countries, in recent months.
Ties between Israel and Sierra Leone were first established in 1961 following the African nation’s independence from Great Britain. They were suspended in 1973 during Israel’s war with Arab states, only to be re-established in 1992.
Israel does not have an embassy in Sierra Leone but operates a diplomatic mission out of Ghana servicing both countries. Almost 80% of Sierra Leoneans are Muslims.
African nations have traditionally been critical of Israel due to the oppression of Palestinians, although the regime has attempted to find new allies in the continent in recent years.
Israel illegally annexed East al-Quds in 1980 in a move not recognized by the global community.
Former US President Donald Trump sparked huge anger in the Muslim world when he announced in 2018 that the US embassy in Israel would move to al-Quds, with similar pledges by other allies of Israel.
Eighty-nine of the 94 embassies in Israel are situated in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, while only four are in al-Quds - Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo, and the United States.