Diplomacy

Guatemala Announces Move of Embassy to Jerusalem; First Since U.S. Recognition of Capital

Guatemala plans to relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced on his official Facebook account on Sunday, making it the first country to mirror U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision from December 6.

Morales said he had informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and instructed Guatemala’s foreign ministry to start the process of moving the embassy, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“We spoke about the great relationships we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel. One of the most relevant topics was the return of the Embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem,” Morales stated.

He added: “I inform you that I have given instructions to the Chancellor (Foreign Minister) to initiate the process to make it possible. God bless you.”

Netanyahu praised Guatemala’s decision and suggested other countries would soon follow. “From here I would like to say to the President of Guatemala: God bless you, my friend, President Morales. God bless both our countries – Israel and Guatemala. We are waiting for you here in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset.

“I told you recently that there will be other countries that would recognize Jerusalem and announce the transfer of their embassies to it,” Netanyahu added. “Well here is the second country and I reiterate: It is only the beginning and it is important.”

Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of Israel’s Knesset, also congratulated Morales “on his bold decision.” He wrote on Twitter: “Your decision proves that you and your country are true friends of Israel. confident the ties between us will only grow stronger to the benefit of both countries”

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked thanked Morales for what she described as “his courageous decision.” She said she was confident that other countries would follow Guatemala’s example.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, at least 10 other countries are in talks with Israel to move their own missions to Jerusalem, with Guatemala’s neighboring state Honduras likely to be the next country to announce the decision. Other countries also reportedly in talks to move their embassies are South America’s Paraguay and the west African nation of Togo.

Guatemala and Honduras were among a handful of other countries which joined the U.S. and Israel in voting against a United Nations resolution on Thursday to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the U.S. embassy.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube]