Guatemala says it is moving embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Guatemala says it is moving embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

In Facebook post, President Jimmy Morales praises 'excellent relations that we have had as nations,' says he has directed his government to begin planning relocation

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

The president of Guatemala said Sunday that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted last week with the United States when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on his official Facebook account that after talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he decided to instruct his foreign ministry to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We spoke about the excellent relations that we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the state of Israel,” Morales wrote. “One of the most important topics [of the conversation] was the return of the embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem. So I inform you that I have instructed the chancellor to initiate the respective coordination so that it may happen.”

Querido pueblo de Guatemala, hoy he conversado con el Primer Ministro de Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Hablamos de las…

Posted by Jimmy Morales on Sunday, 24 December 2017

In November 2016, Morales was welcomed in Israel by government officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and the Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein, all of who thanked Guatemala for its early support of Israel.

“Latin America has always been friendly to Israel, but I think we’re at a position where these relationships can be far, far, far advanced,” Netanyahu told Morales during a public meeting at the Prime Minsiter’s Office in Jerusalem.

In July, Morales decorated the outgoing Israeli ambassador Moshe Bachar with the Order of Quetzal on the Grand Cross degree, the country’s highest honor, in recognition of his cooperation in strengthening the political dialogue between the Central American nation and the Jewish state.

President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) and his wife Nehama (R), Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and his wife Patricia Marroquin review an honor guard during an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential compound in Jerusalem, on November 28, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/GIL COHEN-MAGEN)

Guatemala is home to about 1,000 Jews in a population of 15 million.

The resolution passed at the UN declared the US action on Jerusalem “null and void.” The 128-9 vote was a victory for Palestinians, but fell short of the total they had predicted. Thirty-five nations abstained and 21 stayed away from the vote.

Guatemala and Israel were joined by Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo in voting with the United States and opposing the measure. There were also 35 abstentions and 21 countries were absent or did not vote at all.

While deriding the “preposterous” vote, Netanyahu expressed appreciation of the “fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd.”

In a December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as merely based on reality.

Bitterly rejected by the Palestinian Authority, which is now boycotting the Trump administration, the move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

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