Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Guatemala joins the USA in moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin shakes hands with his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales at the presidential compound in Jerusalem Guatemala Follows US, Opens Embassy in Jerusalem
Faye Gross | 17 May, 2018, 00:40

Guatemala has opened its embassy in Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of the United States, which inaugurated its embassy in the city two days prior, in a move that has triggered worldwide condemnation.

Post the opening of the embassy, violent clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers at the Gaza Strip, resulting in the killing of 62 agitators.

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

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the embassy's opening on Wednesday in an office complex in west Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said ambassadors to Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria were being called home for consultations after those countries sent envoys to a celebratory event held by Israel's Foreign Ministry ahead of the U.S Embassy opening.

"We highly value our relations with all European Union member states". Guatemala has opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, becoming the second country to do so after the United States.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

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The opening comes almost 30-years after the UN ordered Guatemala and 13 other nations to relocate their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

"You were always among the first", he said at the ceremony.

Prior to 1980, Guatemala and a dozen other countries maintained embassies in Jerusalem.

Morales, a former comedian, repaid his hosts on his Twitter account, declaring today "a historic day in the friendship between Guatemala and Israel".

Morales said Guatemala was sending a message of "love, peace and fraternity" to Israel amid praise from Netanyahu.

Aron Heller is an Associated Press writer.

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