(March 5, 2018 / JNS) Guatemala has announced that it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, the country’s president announced on Sunday.
“I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way. His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right,” President Jimmy Morales said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference.
Morales said that his decision to return the Guatemalan Embassy to Jerusalem “strongly evidences Guatemala’s continued support and solidarity with the people of Israel.”
Morales is just a handful of world leaders who have backed President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Earlier on Sunday, Morales met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.
“Thank you for everything you’re doing, for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I hope soon you will move your embassy to Jerusalem; we hope,” Netanyahu said.
Morales replied, “It is an honor, and it is the right thing to do.”
Both leaders also discussed deepening bilateral ties and cooperation, with Morales inviting Netanyahu to visit the Central American country.
Despite being a small and largely impoverished Central American country, Guatemala has long represented an important partner for Israel. In 1947, as Israel struggled to gain international support for the U.N. Partition Plan for British Palestine, Guatemala became one of the first countries to voice support for the Jewish state’s creation.
In 1956, Guatemala became one of the first Latin American countries to open an embassy in Jerusalem, but later relocated the mission in 1978 to the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya.
Today, as Israel is attempting to build non-traditional allies around the world, Guatemala has expressed an interest in bolstering agriculture, science, technology and security ties with the Israelis.