Abbas urges Latin America not to follow US example on embassy
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Abbas urges Latin America not to follow US example on embassy

After Guatemala and Paraguay announce plans to move their missions to Jerusalem, PA leader thanks Venezuela for its support

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, during a meeting at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on May 7, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, during a meeting at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on May 7, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Latin American countries Monday night not to emulate the controversial US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

The United States is pushing ahead with plans to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv on May 14, a move welcomed by Israel that has sparked major protests by Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

“We hope that some countries across Latin America won’t go moving their embassies to Jerusalem, because that is against international law,” Abbas said during a meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas.

The Palestinian leader thanked ally Maduro for rejecting Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate its embassy, reversing decades of US policy in the region.

Guatemala has already announced it will relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, two days after the United States shifts its mission. And Israel on Monday said Paraguay will be next, doing so later this month.

 

Foreign embassies are currently located in Tel Aviv and its environs, as the international community has balked at recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, until the status of the city is set via a peace deal with the Palestinians.

On December 6, US President Donald Trump announced that the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem. Israel has expressed hopes that other countries will follow suit, though the move was widely condemned in the international community.

The US will open its embassy in its current consulate in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood on May 14. A large US delegation, headed by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is expected to attend the event.

Two days later, Guatemala will inaugurate its new embassy in Jerusalem’s Malha Technological Park, in the presence of President Jimmy Morales.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Paraguay President Horacio Cartes will travel to Israel later this month to open the country’s new embassy in the capital. Cartes’s trip was scheduled for May 21 or May 22, a Paraguay government spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Paraguay President Horacio Cartes at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, July 19, 2016. (Emil Salman/Pool)

Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at least half a dozen countries are considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem, and pledged “preferential treatment” to the first 10 countries to do so.

Also last month, the parliament of Honduras passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the country’s embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Other countries have also stated they may want relocate their embassies.

The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, last month announced the beginning of a process that will move the country’s diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But it remains unclear if and when Prague will actually open an embassy in the holy city, as the country’s government remains opposed to relocating the mission before an Israel-Palestinian peace deal is concluded.

Also in April, Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancilas and the head of the country’s Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea decided to start the process of transferring their country’s embassy to Jerusalem.

However, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who is opposed to the move, has the last word on such matters such as the recognition of foreign capitals. Angry with Dancilas’s proposal on Jerusalem, he publicly called on her to resign.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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