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December 26, 2017 8:26 am

‘God Bless You,’ Netanyahu Tells Guatemalan President Over Jerusalem Embassy Move

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters / Abir Sultan / Pool.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Guatemala with a “God bless you” on Monday for deciding to move its embassy to Jerusalem, while the Palestinians said the Central American country was “on the wrong side of history.”

In an official Facebook post on Sunday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he had chosen to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv — siding with America in an international dispute over Jerusalem policy — after talking to Netanyahu.

US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, reversing decades of American policy and upsetting the Arab world and some Western allies.

On Thursday, 128 countries rebuked Trump by backing a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling on the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem.

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“God bless you, my friend, President Jimmy Morales, God bless both our countries, Israel and Guatemala,” Netanyahu said, switching to English, in remarks to a weekly meeting of his Likud party faction at the Knesset.

Guatemala and neighboring Honduras were two of only a handful of countries to join Israel and the US, which has pledged to move its embassy to Jerusalem, in voting against the UN resolution.

The US 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.

Meanwhile, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki as saying that Morales was “dragging his country to the wrong side of history by committing a flagrant violation of international law.”

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.

Israeli 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 US relocates its own embassy to Jerusalem. American officials have said that move could take at least two years.

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