Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Following US lead, Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem

Following US lead, Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem

Following in the footsteps of the United States, Guatemala opened its embassy in Jerusalem Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, third left, his wife Sara, second left, and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, center, watch as the Guatemalan First Lady Hilda Patricia Marroquin cuts the ribbon during the dedication ceremony of the embassy of Guatemala in Jerusalem, Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

Trump's move reversed decades of USA policy, upsetting the Arab world and Western allies. Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador. Paraguay has also announced that it would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of May. The move comes just two days after the US opened its own embassy in the city. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was fitting since Guatemala also followed the U.S.to be the second country to recognize Israel 70 years ago. At the ceremony, he said, "You were always among the first, "Netanyahu further added, "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now".

"But today, I just want to say how delighted we are to have you".

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The move has infuriated Palestinians and drawn widespread worldwide condemnation. In Geneva, the United Nations human rights office said Israel has repeatedly violated worldwide norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters. The Gaza protesters hurled firebombs and stones towards Israeli troops across the border.

Most of those killed were shot by Israeli snipers, the Gazan health ministry said, in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 Gaza war. Israel, however, accused Hamas militants of carrying out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel did everything it could to prevent civilian casualties but that Gaza's Hamas rulers were to blame for using them as human shields.

But there were numerous calls for an independent investigation into the deaths, with Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium among those supporting such action.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "The Guatemalan government has chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, to side with violations of worldwide law and human rights, and to take a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arab world".

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"We are not surprised that a president that has objected to United Nations investigations into corruption and abuses of power has chose to further violate global resolutions".

Netanyahu hailed the opening of Guatemala's embassy in Jerusalem as "the beginning of something extraordinary" in the relationship between the two countries. Joining Paraguay, officials in Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have all made statements in recent months about plans for their own potential embassy moves.

On Tuesday Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas withdrew his top representative to the United States.

The opening of the USA embassy in Jerusalem on Monday triggered deadly clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in Gaza and the West Bank.

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Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, but it is not recognised by global community.

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