Israel Praises Guatemala for ‘Bold’ Jerusalem Embassy Move
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales drew praise from Israeli officials on Monday for deciding to relocate the Central American country’s embassy to Jerusalem, a move in step with the recently-announced new US policy on the city’s status.
In a short post on his official Facebook account on Sunday, Morales said he had decided to move the embassy from Tel Aviv after talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec 6, reversing decades of US policy and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.
On Thursday, 128 countries defied Trump by backing a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling on America to drop its recognition of Jerusalem.
“I congratulate my friend (Morales) on his bold decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” Israeli Parliamentary Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote on Twitter. “Your decision proves that you and your country are true friends of Israel.”
Guatemala and neighboring Honduras were two of only a handful of countries to join Israel and the United States, which has pledged to move its embassy to Jerusalem, in voting against the UN resolution.
Israel’s ambassador to Guatemala, Matty Cohen, said on Army Radio that no date had been set for the embassy move, “but it will happen after” the United States relocates its own embassy to Jerusalem. US officials have said that move could take at least two years.
The United States is an important source of assistance to Guatemala and Honduras, and Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that supported the UN resolution.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, writing on Twitter, thanked Morales for what she described as “his courageous decision.” She said she was confident that other countries would follow his lead.
Prior to 1980, Guatemala — along with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, The Netherlands, Panama, Venezuela and Uruguay — maintained an embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel’s passage in June 1980 of a law proclaiming Jerusalem its “indivisible and eternal capital” led to a UN Security Council resolution calling upon those countries to move their embassies to Tel Aviv, prompting their transfer.