Guatemala Becomes Second Country To Move Israeli Embassy To Jerusalem

Guatemala Opens Israel Embassy In Jerusalem After U.S

Guatemala previously had an embassy in Jerusalem, the first country in the world to open an embassy in the city in 1956.

Guatemala inaugurated its Israel embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, becoming the first country to follow in the footsteps of the United States' deeply controversial move.

The event marks the day when Israel was created in the midst of a violent campaign that led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said it was fitting since Guatemala also followed the U.S. to be the second country to recognise Israel 70 years ago.

Jimmy Morales, the Guatemalan President, arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday ahead of today's ceremony to a rapturous welcome; Jerusalem's old city walls were even illuminated with the Guatemalan flag and a message thanking Morales for his support.

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During the ceremony, Netanyahu praised the Central American country for its long friendship and recognition of the Jewish State. Besides Guatemala, Paraguay said it would also relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have said they are considering doing the same.

The Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as capital of their hoped-for state, vehemently oppose the U.S. Embassy's relocation from Tel Aviv, seeing it as a one-sided move that invalidates the U.S.as a Mideast peace broker. Israel considers Jerusalem its undivided capital, but almost all countries have opted to maintain embassies in Tel Aviv because of the holy city's contested status.

"This is the beginning of something extraordinary, or I would say, the re-beginning of something extraordinary, which is the relationship between Guatemala and Israel", he said.

The Arab League and the French government condemned the USA embassy move as illegal and in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions surrounding the conflict.

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