Azerbaijan will become the first nation from a Shi’ite Muslim country to open an embassy in Israel, the prime minister’s office announced on Friday.
The new embassy plan has been under discussion for the past month. Azerbaijan plans to open the location at its current Tourism Office in Tel Aviv.
Israel and Azerbaijan have had diplomatic relations for three decades. An Israeli embassy has been in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku since 1993.
“I welcome the decision by the National Assembly of Azerbaijan to open an embassy in Israel. Azerbaijan is an important partner of Israel and home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Muslim world,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement on Friday.
“The decision to open an embassy reflects the depth of the relationship between our countries. This move is the result of the Israeli government’s efforts to build strong diplomatic bridges with the Muslim world. I want to thank President Ilham Aliyev and congratulate the Azeri people who will now be represented for the first time in the State of Israel,” he added.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog wrote a letter of honor to mark 30 years of relations between the two countries earlier this year, inviting Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to visit and open an embassy.
Recently improved relations with Turkey as well as the 2020 Abraham Accords have opened new opportunities for Middle Eastern nations like Azerbaijan to normalize relations with Israel.
In addition, Azerbaijan shares more than 400 miles of border with Iran, making it a nation of strategic importance to both nations. Azerbaijan desires to keep peace with its neighbor, while Israel hopes to build a growing coalition of allies who oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions.