Published: Thu, May 17, 2018

Following US lead, Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem

Following US lead, Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem

Guatemala opened an embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, two days after the United States inaugurated its new site in the contested city in a move that infuriated Palestinians and drew global condemnation.

Guatemala is now the second country to move its Israeli embassy back to Jerusalem.

The inauguration of the Guatemalan embassy, which was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, also comes amid outrage over the Israeli army's killing of 62 Palestinians protesting in the Gaza Strip on Monday. The Guatemalan Congress recently passed a law marking May 14 as "Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day".

On Tuesday, the Palestinians marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day, or "the Day of Catastrophe", to demand their rights of return to homes occupied by Israel in the 1948 war.

"You are always among the first, always among the first.We remember our friends, and Guatemala is our friend - then and now", Netanyahu went on, recalling that Guatemala was the second nation, after the USA, to recognize Israel in May 1948.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Morales said his country was bringing a message of "love, peace and fraternity" to Israel.

Paraguay is scheduled to open a Jerusalem embassy on May 21 with its president, Horacio Cartes, due to be in attendance. Guatemala previously had an embassy in Jerusalem, the first country in the world to open an embassy in the city in 1956.

Honduras, which voted with the United States and Israel on the December 21 United Nations resolution, is yet to decide on relocating from Tel Aviv, despite parliamentary approval for the move.

All embassies to Israel were situated in the commercial capital Tel Aviv, before the U.S. and Guatemalan embassy moves. It closed in 1980 following a United Nations Security Council resolution that called for such closures.

Israel has been buoyed by the new Jerusalem missions, which have infuriated the Palestinians.

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