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Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem

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Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem

Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem
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Guatemala has announced that it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May. President Jimmy Morales is following the lead of US President Donald Trump, who, back in December, announced plans to relocate his country's embassy to the city.

"I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way. His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right."

Jimmy Morales President of Guatemala

Trump's stance provoked international condemnation, with 128 countries signing up to a non-binding UN resolution calling for the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem.

What is all the fuss about?

Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, and runs its government from the city. However, Palestinians also stake a claim in East Jerusalem, which was annexed by its neighbour and rival after the 1967 war.

Wanting to defuse tensions in the region, the international community has tended to sidestep the issue, often basing their embassies in the financial centre of Tel Aviv instead.

Donald Trump's decision is widely perceived as an endorsement of Israel's claims, and is likely to be a significant obstacle to any peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Why Guatemala?

The cynics would say that Guatemala's dependence on US aid lies behind its following of the US lead on Jerusalem. Donald Trump has threatened to cut off aid to countries that supported the UN resolution against it.

However, President Morales said that his decision "strongly evidences Guatemala's continued support and solidarity with the people of Israel".

In January a local Guatemalan lawyer, Marco Vinicio Mejia, challenged his President's decision in the courts. However, the high court's five magistrates turned down his petition, clearing the way for the move.

Israeli thanks

When the news broke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Jimmy Morales for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

It is believed that Honduras may soon follow the lead of its fellow South-American country.