Guatemala offers to help countries move their embassies to Jerusalem
search
Interview

Guatemala offers to help countries move their embassies to Jerusalem

'We want to make sure that it gets done, and that it gets done right and at the proper time,' says FM Sandra Jovel

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Guatemala's Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel listens questions during a news conference in Guatemala City, December 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
Guatemala's Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel listens questions during a news conference in Guatemala City, December 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Guatemala hopes other countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, the country’s foreign minister said this week, indicating her government’s readiness to help in this matter.

“I believe that it’s a sovereign decision that each country needs to make for itself based on its position. Nevertheless, we as a country are willing to support other countries who want to follow Guatemala’s example,” Sandra Jovel told The Times of Israel in a telephone interview.

“Hopefully, some of the countries that have wanted to do it will be able to follow Guatemala’s example and the decision we’ve taken.”

On December 24, the Central American nation became the first country after the United States to announce its intention to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Other countries, including its neighbor Honduras, have been rumored to be intending to follow suit, even though El Salvador this week said it would not relocate its Israel embassy.

Jovel, who has been Guatemala’s foreign minister since August 2017, said that planning for the move to Jerusalem has started but that it would take some time before the actual relocation can get underway.

“We’re not rushing into it, but we’re also not taking it slowly,” she said, speaking in Spanish. “We’re proceeding calmly, looking into the administrative, political and logistic aspects of moving the embassy. We want to make sure that it gets done, and that it gets done right and at the proper time.”

This file picture taken on November 28, 2016, shows Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shaking hands during a joint press conference after signing bilateral agreements at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. (AFP Photo/Pool/Abir Sultan)

Indeed, Guatemala actually wanted to be first nation in the world to announce its intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but was “unable to do so for several reasons,” Jovel said.

“Guatemala has had the initiative to move the embassy back to Jerusalem for many years,” she said. “Making that decision now was coherent with the longstanding position of Guatemala in support of Israel.

Obviously, President Trump’s decision helped in a way, because we can do it together, as allied nations

On December 6, US President Donald Trump formally recognize the city as Israel’s capital and declared his intention to move the American Embassy there.

“Obviously, President Trump’s decision helped in a way, because we can do it together, as allied nations,” she said. “But our decision was a sovereign decision based on Guatemala’s foreign relations as they pertain to Israel. The moment was a good moment to stand by an ally and do it.”

Guatemala has been a close friend and partner of Israel since before Israel’s creation in 1948.

Seventy years ago, the country’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados played a crucial role in convincing Latin American countries to vote in favor of General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

Guatemala was one of the first countries to recognize the nascent State of Israel, and in 1959 became the first Latin American state to open a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.

Guatemala’s new ambassador to Israel, Dr. Juan Garcia Granados leaving the President’s Residence in Jerusalem after presenting his credentials, July 1955 (Moshe Pridan/GPO)

In 1978 — more than a decade after the Six Day War but two years before a UN Security Council Resolution calling on all nations to move their embassies out of Jerusalem — Guatemala’s mission there closed and moved to Herzliya, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Previous Guatemalan governments have vowed to move the embassy to Jerusalem, even in recent years, but have failed to follow through on their commitments, Jovel acknowledged.

But President Jimmy Morales and his government are determined to fulfill their pledge to move the embassy, she insisted.

“President Morales is firm in his decision and determined to see the embassy moved,” Jovel said. “It’s in line with Guatemala’s longstanding diplomatic foreign policy.”

read more:
comments