Guatemala court rejects bid to block Israel embassy move
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Guatemala court rejects bid to block Israel embassy move

Judges turn down petition claiming transferring embassy to Jerusalem violates international law; FM says decision to move diplomatic mission ‘irreversible’

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, center, speaks to the press after holding a meeting with the US ambassador to the United Nations  Nikki Haley, left at the Culture Palace in Guatemala City on February 28, 2018. (AFP / Johan ORDONEZ)
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, center, speaks to the press after holding a meeting with the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, left at the Culture Palace in Guatemala City on February 28, 2018. (AFP / Johan ORDONEZ)

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has rejected a local lawyer’s attempt to prevent the government from moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as the US plans to do, a court spokesman said Saturday.

Spokesman Santiago Palomo told AFP that the high court’s five magistrates turned down a request from lawyer Marco Vinicio Mejia, who argued in a petition filed in January that the embassy move was contrary to international law.

The decision in December by President Donald Trump to transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has drawn widespread condemnation, with critics saying the moves damages hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Only seven small countries — including Guatemala and Honduras — sided with the United States and Israel on a nonbinding December 21 UN General Assembly resolution rejecting Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, however, soon followed Trump’s move, making Guatemala the first country to do so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (L) in Jerusalem, on November 29, 2016. (Haim Zach / GPO)

Morales, who made the announcement on Facebook, said that Guatemala was a nation of “Christian thought,” adding that “Israel is our ally and we must support it.”

In his brief, Mejia argued among other things that an order issued over social media such as Facebook carried no legal standing.

The court said in its ruling that “the circumstances” did not make it “advisable” to grant an injunction, though it suggested that the matter was not definitively resolved.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday thanked Morales for his support on the Jerusalem question.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel said she has received calls from the Palestinian Authority asking for Guatemala to reconsider its stance.

But the country’s position, she said, was irreversible.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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