Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday, two days after the conservative, pro-Israel politician was elected as Guatemala’s president, defeating former first lady Sandra Torres in a runoff.
“I congratulate Alejandro Giammattei on his election as president of Guatemala. He is a friend of Israel and I am convinced that together we will strengthen the excellent cooperation between the countries,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
He also thanked outgoing President Jimmy Morales, saying that during his tenure “relations between Israel and Guatemala reached new heights, thanks also to his correct and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the Guatemalan Embassy there.”
Morales announced in late 2017 that he had recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and intended to relocate his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, making Guatemala the first nation to follow the lead of the US. A small embassy was officially opened in Jerusalem’s Malcha Technology Park in May 2018.
Regarding Israel, Giammattei said late last month, “He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy.”
Speaking to the Spanish-language bulletin of the US-based Israel Allies Foundation, he said close bilateral relations with Israel would be a top foreign policy priority of his, adding that he would keep the country’s embassy in Jerusalem and take action against Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which operates extensively throughout Latin America.
Israel and Guatemala have long maintained close ties.