Guatemala to Celebrate Israel's 70th Birthday with Jerusalem Embassy Move

Posted March 06, 2018

Guatemala has confirmed it will relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move is planned for May 16, two days after the United States plans to move its embassy.

"I would like to thank President [Donald] Trump for leading the way".

Guatemala was one of a handful of countries that backed U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, something most other countries decline to do as part of the city was seized during a 1967 war and is considered occupied territory. He said Israel and Guatemala share common goals, from fighting terrorism to combating the spread of drugs and protecting human rights. "His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right", Morales said in a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference, according to a translation of his remarks on the pro-Israel U.S. lobbying group's website.

In 1959, Guatemala was the first country to open its embassy in Jerusalem, but later moved it to Tel Aviv following worldwide rejection of Israeli claims to East Jerusalem.

"This decision strongly evidences Guatemala's continued support and solidarity with the people of Israel", Morales told AIPAC.

In a December 2017 the U.N. General Assembly voted on a resolution condemning Trump's decision.

Palestinians have been angered by Trump's decision, which went against the vocal opposition of Arab leaders as it seeks to change the status of the contested city. Only eight countries joined the opposing it, including Nicaragua.

Guatemala was the first nation after the USA to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, on December 24, 2017.

Speaking after meeting in Guatemala City with President Jimmy Morales, Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed gratitude for Morales' "words and statements" about Venezuela.

In a briefing with reporters after his speech, Morales said he's extended "an invitation to other countries" to follow his lead.

President Donald Trump's decision previous year to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital departed from decades of United States policy.