Guatemala to Move Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

President Jimmy Morales
President Jimmy Morales

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales/CC

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales followed suit with his US counterpart Donald Trump on Sunday to announce the transfer to Jerusalem of his country’s embassy in Israel, despite a vote of condemnation by the UN General Assembly .

“I gave instructions to the Minister (of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Jovel) to start the process” to implement this decision, wrote the president on his Twitter account, a message broadcast by his press service.

First head of state to make a similar decision to that of Donald Trump, President Morales reported on the social networks of a telephone interview he had had before with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“One of the most important themes of the talk with the (Israeli) Prime Minister was the return of the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem,” Morales said, noting the “excellent relations” between the two country “since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel”.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon praised the “important decision” a few hours later: “Great news, a real friendship!” He said on his Twitter account.

On Friday, President Morales defended his country’s support for the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in the wake of the massive UN General Assembly vote condemning the US president’s move.

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“Guatemala is historically pro-Israel” and “in 70 years of relations, Israel has been our ally,” he said.

Guatemala voted against the UN condemnation with Honduras, Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands, in addition to the United States and Israel.

“Despite the fact that we are only nine in the world, we have total certainty and belief that this was the right thing,” he said.

Of the 193 countries that make up the UN General Assembly, 128 voted against the US decision, including US allies like France and Britain.

This vote “is an insult that we will not forget,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told his fourteen Security Council partners.

In the end, the text was not adopted, the United States having used its permanent member veto.

Trump’s decision on December 6th provoked almost daily protests in the Palestine and tarnished the Christmas party for Palestinian Christians.

The position of the United Nations has changed little in decades. The US does not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem, which it regards as occupied territory, and has declared the Israeli law of 1980 as a violation of international law.

For US, the final status of Jerusalem must be negotiated between the parties.

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The widespread international vision remains that of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and an independent Palestinian state.

UN Resolution 478 in 1980 called upon all countries with a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem to withdraw it. Thirteen countries (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Netherlands, Panama, Uruguay, Venezuela) had moved their embassy to Tel Aviv, where other countries’ embassies were already located.

Eric Thomas

Eric, originally from Nigeria, currently resides in Florida and covers a wide range of topics for The talking Democrat.