The majority-Christian nation of Malawi in southeastern Africa has announced plans to open an embassy in Israel and place it in Jerusalem by the summer of 2021. Malawi, whose president is a former pastor in the Assemblies of God denomination, will be the third country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
During his visit to Israel, Malawi Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka issued a video statement, calling the decision a “bold and significant step,” as Malawi will be the first African nation to have an embassy in Jerusalem, according to Reuters.
Alongside Mkaka, his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, said, “I look forward to your embassy opening soon, and I’m sure that more African leaders will follow this decision.”
Ashkenazi added, “Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, will be a bridge of peace for the whole world, and I call on more countries to follow in Malawi’s path and move their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
Mkaka also congratulated Israel on its newly established relations with Arab and Muslim states under U.S.-brokered deals under President Trump’s administration.
Currently, only the United States and Guatemala have embassies in Jerusalem, although Brazil, Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Honduras, Moldova, Romania and the Czech Republic have also said they will open embassies.
A number of African countries, including Kenya, Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, once had embassies in Jerusalem, but they were closed following the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Last month, Sudan became the third Arab nation — after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — to normalize ties with Israel as part of a U.S.-brokered peace agreement.
“They are choosing a future in which Arabs and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians can live together, pray together, and dream together, side by side, in harmony, community, and peace,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House at the time.
The statement said Israel and Sudan would begin negotiations in the coming weeks on cooperation agreements in agriculture, economy, trade, aviation, migration issues and other mutual benefit areas.
Former pastor and Assemblies of God President, Lazarus Chakwera, was elected as Malawi’s president in June.
Evangelist Franklin Graham congratulated Chakwera at the time, writing on Facebook that he did a great job chairing a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association outreach in 2010 called My Hope Malawi. “President Chakwera said, ‘My victory is a win for democracy and justice.’ Will you join me in praying that God will bless, direct, and protect this man as he leads his country?” Graham asked.
The 65-year-old Malawian entered politics in 2013 without any previous experience and was the leader of the Malawi Congress Party, according to the BBC. His career in public service followed 24 years of leading the Assemblies of God denomination in the landlocked country.
Chakwera was an instructor at the Assemblies of God School of Theology from 1983 to 2000. He became the school’s principal in 1996.
The Assemblies of God is one of the largest religious groups in that nation.