Palestinians blast Guatemala over Jerusalem embassy opening
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Palestinians blast Guatemala over Jerusalem embassy opening

Saeb Erekat accuses ‘fundamentalist’ Central American country of violating international law and using Christianity to justify move

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3rd-L) Guatemala President Jimmy Morales (C) and Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel (2R) at the official opening of the Guatemalan embassy in Jerusalem on May 16, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3rd-L) Guatemala President Jimmy Morales (C) and Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel (2R) at the official opening of the Guatemalan embassy in Jerusalem on May 16, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

The Palestinians castigated Guatemala over the opening of its Jerusalem embassy earlier Wednesday, accusing the Central American nation of violating international law and using Christianity to justify the move.

“The Guatemalan government has chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, to side with violations of international law and human rights, and to take a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arab World,” said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Guatemala’s opening of its embassy in Jerusalem made it the second country to do so after the United States, which inaugurated its mission on Monday.

Wednesday’s embassy opening was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who touted the move as “a new era in relations between us.”

Erekat accused Guatemala of using a “fundamentalist” Christianity to justify what he called a violation of internal resolutions.

“The narrative presented by the Guatemalan government to justify this move also reflects its alliance with the Israeli occupation and right-wing fundamentalists. The fact that they have used the Bible and Christianity as an excuse to move the embassy to Jerusalem in contradiction to the position of the Holy See, 13 churches in Jerusalem as well as from a number of Christian religious leaders worldwide, highlights the fundamentalist nature of the Israeli regime and its allies such as the Guatemalan government,” said Erekat.

He said the Palestinians will consult with the Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and others regarding the move, saying “appropriate measures will be taken.”

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in New York City on December 13, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee, also attacked Guatemala over the embassy opening, saying it will allow Israel to continue with the “total annexation and isolation of Palestinian Jerusalem.”

“The Guatemalan government has positioned itself alongside Israel and its war crimes, defying international law and supporting the military occupation and the illegal annexation of Jerusalem by relocating its embassy to occupied Jerusalem,” she said, according to the official Wafa news agency.

The Palestinian criticism of Guatemala came as the Palestinian Authority recalled its ambassadors from Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria in protest of their envoys’ presence at a Foreign Ministry reception Sunday celebrating the embassy openings.

The Palestinians also withdrew their ambassador to the US on Tuesday.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Munchin, left, and daughter of US President Donald Trump, Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump, unveil a dedication plaque during the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The embassy openings have been strongly opposed by the Palestinians and much of the international community. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

US President Donald Trump has said his December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “recognition of reality,” while stressing the move did not take a position on the city’s borders.

So far, Paraguay is the only other country to announce it will open an embassy in Jerusalem, though a number of Latin American and Central European countries have indicated they may follow suit.

AFP contributed to this report.

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