Guatemala announces to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala has become the first country in the world to follow U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In a Facebook post, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After discussing the countries’ relationship, Morales initiated the move of the embassy.

Just days before Morales’ announcement, the United Nations voted to condemn the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision. Guatemala was one of the nine countries to vote against the resolution and support the U.S.

On Dec. 21, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reject Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The U.S. endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital reverses longstanding U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. One hundred and twenty-eight countries voted for a resolution condemning the U.S. decision.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had strong words for the delegates after the resolution passed. “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” she said. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.”

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.

Mercosur divided on Jerusalem vote: Argentina and Paraguay abstained; Chile and Brazil supported

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 recognize 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.”

Palestinians have long claimed that Jerusalem will be the capital city of the future Palestinian state, and almost all proposed peace plans for the region envision some sort of sharing of the city between Israel and Palestine.