World

Guatemala moves Israel embassy to Jerusalem, 2 days after US

Guatemala moves Israel embassy to Jerusalem, 2 days after US

Israeli and Guatemalan officials - including the Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales - attended an inauguration ceremony at the new embassy at an office park in the contested city at the heart of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the embassy's opening on Wednesday in an office complex in west Jerusalem. This move, which follows the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy two days ago, should hardly come as a surprise: Guatemala's strong ties with Israel go back to 1948, when it was the second country, similarly behind the U.S., to recognize its statehood.

Monday's ceremony to inaugurate the U.S. embassy was marred by violent clashes along the Gaza border that left 52 Palestinians dead from Israeli fire and thousands wounded, in the conflict's bloodiest day in years.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude towards United States President Donald Trump for the same.

Paraguay is expected to follow the U.S and Guatemala's lead, and plans to relocate their embassy to Jerusalem in the coming weeks.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to forging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who with broad global backing want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as their capital.

In 1980, Guatemala pulled its diplomats from Jerusalem after the Knesset announced the controversial Jerusalem Law, which triumphantly declared the city, "complete and united", as Israel's capital. South Africa has also recalled its envoy from Israel.

On the day the United States inaugurated its own embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli gunfire killed 60 Palestinians during the Gaza border protests.

"Guatemala opened an Embassy in Jerusalem after the United States", - said in the message. Guatemala was also the first country after USA recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 24, 2017.


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