Guatemala’s president Jimmy Morales has announced his country will follow in the United States’ footsteps by relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
His decision came after Donald Trump announced earlier in December that the US now recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“We talked about the excellent relations we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel,” he wrote in a Facebook post after talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said he had issued instructions to begin the process of relocating the Guatemalan embassy.
The move was welcomed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry with deputy diplomacy minister Michael Oren tweeting “Viva Guatemala! It takes courage for a superpower to stand up for justice and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital”.
Viva Guatemala! It takes courage for a superpower to stand up for justice and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. But it takes even more —immense guts—for a small nation to do that. People of Guatemala, the people of Israel will never forget your support and bravery.— Michael Oren (@DrMichaelOren) December 25, 2017
Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin also took to Twitter to praise Guatemala’s move, saying: “I welcome their decision to bring their embassy to Jerusalem and thank them for their deep friendship.
“We look forward to welcoming you to Jerusalem!”
Guatemala have shown they know very well that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel! I welcome their decision to bring their embassy to Jerusalem and thank them for their deep friendship. We look forward to welcoming you to Jerusalem!— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) December 25, 2017
Relations between the two countries have traditionally been friendly, with Israel offering arms deals and humanitarian aid regularly after natural disasters.
Guatemala was one of nine countries to side with the US when the United Nations General Assembly denounced Mr Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, but is unlikely to relocate its embassy there until the US moves its own.
While no country presently has an embassy in Jerusalem, several mainly Latin American countries maintained diplomatic missions there in the past.
This changed after 1980, when the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning what it referred to as Israeli efforts to alter the city’s “character and status” as a barrier to peace.