Deputy minister praises 'immense guts' of a small nation

Israel hails ‘true friendship’ as Guatemala pledges to move embassy to Jerusalem

Foreign Ministry thanks the Central American nation, the first to follow Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

A pro-Israel group waves a huge flag during a demonstration in support of Israel during a military campaign in Gaza in the streets of Guatemala City on August 3, 2014. (photo credit: AFP Johan ORDONEZ)
A pro-Israel group waves a huge flag during a demonstration in support of Israel during a military campaign in Gaza in the streets of Guatemala City on August 3, 2014. (photo credit: AFP Johan ORDONEZ)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Monday hailed the “true friendship” between Guatemala and Israel after the Central American country said it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Guatemala became the first nation to pledge to move their mission to Jerusalem, since US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and instructions to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv. The Czech republic has also since recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Thank you Guatemala for your important decision to move your Embassy to Jerusalem!” wrote ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon on Twitter. “Wonderful news and true friendship!!”

“Long live the friendship between Guatemala and Israel,” he added in Spanish.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on his official Facebook account on Sunday 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, December 24, 2017

Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren hailed Guatemala’s courage.

“Viva Guatemala! It takes courage for a superpower to stand up for justice and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. But it takes even more —immense guts—for a small nation to do that,” Oren wrote on Twitter. “People of Guatemala, the people of Israel will never forget your support and bravery.”

“Guatemala have shown they know very well that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel! I welcome their decision to bring their embassy to Jerusalem and thank them for their deep friendship,” said President Reuven Rivlin .”We look forward to welcoming you to Jerusalem!”

Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein, who met with Morales during his visit to Israel in November 2016 also hailed his bravery.

“I want to congratulate my friend, the President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales on his brave decision to move his country’s embassy to the capital city Jerusalem,” said Edelstein. “In your decision, you proved that you and your country are true friends of Israel and that the ties that exists between us will become stronger and increase for the benefit of both sides.”

During the visit to Israel Morales also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rivlin.

“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.

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

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

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 Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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.

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.

AP contributed to this report.

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