Wed | Jun 20, 2018

Guatemala announces plans to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Published:Monday | December 25, 2017 | 1:10 PM
Supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami take part in an anti-American rally to condemn US President Donald Trump for declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Friday. - AP Photo

GUATEMALA CITY (AP):
Guatemala's president announced on Christmas Eve that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of US President Donald Trump in ordering the change.

Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel on Thursday when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump didn't set any timetable for moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and neither did Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales.

In a post on his official Facebook account Sunday, Morales said that after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he decided to instruct Guatemala's foreign ministry to move the embassy.

Guatemala and Israel have long had close ties, especially in security matters and Israeli arms sales to Guatemala.

No other country has their embassy for Israel in Jerusalem, though the Czech Republic has said it is considering such a move.

In a statement, Netanyahu praised Morales' decision and said that he was waiting in Jerusalem.

"God bless you, my friend, President Morales," he said. "I told you recently that there will be other countries that would recognise Jerusalem and announce the transfer of their embassies to it. Well here is the second country and I reiterate: It is only the beginning and it is important."

Trump upended decades of US policy with his December 6 announcement that he was recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.