Israel appoints ambassador to Paraguay after embassy dispute
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Israel appoints ambassador to Paraguay after embassy dispute

Israel shuttered its Asuncion mission last year warning of ‘strained’ ties over Paraguayan backtrack on Jerusalem embassy move; envoy Yoed Magen to work from neighboring Argentina

President Mario Abdo Benitez, center, talks to Israel's new ambassador to Paraguay, Yoed Magen, left, as Foreign Minister Antonio Rivas Palacios, right, listens, during official ceremony, at Lopez Palace, Asuncion, Paraguay, August 21, 2019. (Anibal Ovelar/Paraguay's Government Press Office via AP)
President Mario Abdo Benitez, center, talks to Israel's new ambassador to Paraguay, Yoed Magen, left, as Foreign Minister Antonio Rivas Palacios, right, listens, during official ceremony, at Lopez Palace, Asuncion, Paraguay, August 21, 2019. (Anibal Ovelar/Paraguay's Government Press Office via AP)

ASUNCION, Paraguay — Yoed Magen has been accredited as the new Israeli ambassador to Paraguay amid tensions between the two nations, the Paraguayan state news agency said Wednesday.

The announcement comes after Paraguay announced last September that it was moving its embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem and back to Tel Aviv, just months after a previous Paraguayan administration had opened the new mission.

Israel responded by shutting its embassy in Paraguay and warning that ties between the countries would be “strained” by the decision. Its new ambassador to Paraguay will work from neighboring Argentina.

Israel had hoped to build on the momentum started by the US, Guatemala and Paraguay, which all moved their embassies to Jerusalem in May 2018.

View of Asuncion’s World Trade Center, which housed the embassy of Israel, on September 6, 2018. (AFP / NORBERTO DUARTE)

In a possible sign of thawing tensions, Paraguay on Monday said it had officially recognized the military wings of Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, drawing praise from both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

President Mario Abdo Benitez made the declaration in an official document, signed on August 9, saying it was aimed at supporting the fight against international terrorism. He also recognized the Islamic State and al-Qaeda as global terror organizations.

Both Iran-affiliated movements, who have been waging a decades-long war against Israel and have attacked its cities with tens of thousands of rockets, will now be blacklisted in the Latin American country.

Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor said the decision was in line with work carried out by the United Nations and international treaties protecting human rights.

Netanyahu welcomed the announcement in a brief statement, saying Israel was making efforts to have other countries also take that step.

Israel has pushed for the international community to blacklist Hezbollah and Hamas. While many countries outlaw the movements’ armed wings, most have balked at also blacklisting their politburos.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz also hailed the move as an “important decision,” saying in a tweet that it “contributes to the global battle against these Iranian proxies.”

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