Israel "in talks with more than 10 countries" on Jerusalem recognition

Israel "in talks with more than 10 countries" on Jerusalem recognition
By Katy Dartford
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Symbolic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - not necessarily moving specific embassies - is at the centre of ongoing talks following Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales' decision to move the country’s embassy.


**Israel says it's in talks with more than 10 countries about backing the United States decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, although it hasn't **listed the names of other countries considering the move.

On Thursday, December 21, over 128 countries backed a non-binding United Nations resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision.

President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour of the UN resolution.

His warning did appear to have some impact - with nine countries voting against the resolution and 35 abstentions.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales was then praised by Israel for deciding to follow the US lead and relocate the country's embassy to Jerusalem. 

Morales announced the move in a Facebook post on Sunday evening:

“Today I spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Morales wrote. “We spoke about the great relationships we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel. One of the most relevant topics was the return of the Embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem. I inform you that I have given instructions to initiate the process to make it possible. God bless you.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a sign of a changing attitude among the international community:

"God bless you, my friend, President Jimmy Morales." he said.

"I told you recently that other countries would recognise Jerusalem as capital city and would announce the transfer of their embassies. Here is a second country and I repeat: there will be others, it's only the beginning."

Guatemala's decision comes three weeks after the United States' declaration and four days after it became one of only nine countries in the UN to vote against a resolution slamming the US move.

Only three of eight Central American countries voted against Israel. Honduras, Guatemala’s neighbour to the east, with which Israel has strong ties, also voted against the measure and is widely believed to be a leading candidate to be the next country to announce it is also moving its embassy.

No date had been set for the Guatemalan embassy's move, but it will happen after the United States relocation, which could take at least two years.

Meanwhile, Palestinian demonstrations continue over Trump's decision. The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. 

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

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