Honduran president reportedly getting cold feet, rethinking participation in Israeli ceremony

Amid the public debate surrounding his participation in the state-ceremony kicking off Israel’s 70th Independence Day, Honduran officials have reportedly relayed to their Israeli counterparts that President Juan Orlando Hernández is rethinking his upcoming trip to Israel.
Last year's ceremony Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is having second thoughts about participating in next week’s torch-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl, which kicks off Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Honduran officials contacted the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry on behalf of their president, saying that Hernández is reconsidering his participation in the event due to the public controversy that the announcement of his plans speech has caused in Israel. However, the office of Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who is in charge of the ceremony, said that it has not been informed about the possibility that Hernández may change his plans.

Last week, the head of the left-wing Meretz party called for the cancelation of Hernández’s invitation. The MK said that the decision to invite the leader is an excuse intended to enable the participation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a letter sent to Regev, Tamar Zandberg accused the Honduran government of committing serious human rights violations against its citizens. “Honduras is one of the most corrupt and dangerous regimes in the world for its citizens,” Zandberg stated in her letter. “Reports say the civil police, the military police and the Honduran army were involved in a series of serious human rights violations, harassment, torture and extrajudicial killings.”

Netanyahu’s intention to attend and speak at the ceremony also bothered Israeli politicians, most notably Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud). Edelstein claimed that Netanyahu’s participation would politicize the traditional ceremony, adding that he would boycott the event if Netanyahu delivers a speech in person. However, the two agreed on Sunday that Edelstein would attend even though Netanyahu will deliver short remarks.  

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