Guatemala Becomes Second Country To Move Israeli Embassy To Jerusalem

Guatemala Becomes Second Country To Move Israeli Embassy To Jerusalem

Guatemala Becomes Second Country To Move Israeli Embassy To 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.

(Left to right) Sara Netanyahu and her husband Prime Minister Benjamin applaud Guatemala President Jimmy Morales and his wife at the inauguration of the Guatemalan embassy.

The US, however, blocked a statement drafted by Kuwait calling for an independent investigation into the killings of Palestinian protesters in Gaza and calling on countries not to station their diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

On Monday, in the presence of a US delegation, including US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a brand new US embassy was inaugurated at Jerusalem's Arnona area. Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and consul general and several European countries summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their foreign ministries for questioning and called for an global investigation.

The European Union objected to the embassy move, but the four European countries broke with EU policy to attend the celebration.

Nearly half a century on, Guatemala's new position can be seen as both a parroting of US foreign policy and as a chance to strengthen relations with Israel, from which it buys most of its arms. "Therefore we consider the participation in this event a contradiction to such values", said Amal Jadou, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it in a move not recognised internationally. Unsurprisingly, such rhetoric has been matched this week by Netanyahu, who felt "moved" at the sight of Guatemala's flag flying in Israel's "eternal capital" after an absence of 38 years. The outlet says a couple of other countries are considering a similar move.

"You were always among the first", he said at the ceremony.

"We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now".

Before the ceremony, Netanyahu and Morales held a private meeting.

Aron Heller is an Associated Press writer.

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