Guatemala Becomes Second Country To Move Israeli Embassy To Jerusalem


"It's not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem right among the first".

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales attended the opening Wednesday morning of the embassy in the technology park of southern Jerusalem's Malkha neighborhood.

President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) give a joint press conference after signing bilateral agreements at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on November 29, 2016.

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

The opening comes almost 30-years after the UN ordered Guatemala and 13 other nations to relocate their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. At the ceremony, he said, "You were always among the first, "Netanyahu further added, "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now". "You are the second country to recognize Israel, but you had a very important role in this".

Paraguay has said that it expects to follow suit and open its embassy in Jerusalem by the end of May.

The Israeli premier spoke of Guatemala's early recognition of the state of Israel after its creation in 1948 and said he would visit the country of 16 million on his next visit to Latin America.

No country recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital until December 2017, when Trump declared it as such, breaking with decades of USA policy favouring the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

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All embassies to Israel were situated in the commercial capital Tel Aviv, before the U.S. and Guatemalan embassy moves.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The embassy move aggravated the conflict between Palestinians and Israel. U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman also attended Wednesday's ceremony.

On the day the U.S. inaugurated its own embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli gunfire killed 60 Palestinians during the Gaza border protests. That move caused some tension because both Israel and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. The Gaza protesters hurled firebombs and stones towards Israeli troops across the border.

Israel was criticised internationally for killing unarmed Palestinians.

"We are not surprised that a president that has objected to United Nations investigations into corruption and abuses of power has made a decision to further violate worldwide resolutions".

The event marks the day when Israel was created in the midst of a violent campaign that led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. Marking the move, the Jerusalem municipality illuminated the walls of the Old City walls late Tuesday with flags of Guatemala, Israel and the United States and a message thanking Morales.