Guatemala will purportedly move its embassy to Jerusalem just two days after the expected opening of the new U.S. embassy in Israel’s capital in May.
The moving date was announced by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
“I met this morning with Ambassador Guatemala in Israel Sarah Solis Castañeda and with the CEO of the foreign ministry Maria Lucia Ramírez to discuss operations for the transfer of the embassy on May 16 to Jerusalem as per Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales,” wrote Barkat.
He added: “I congratulate the president of Guatemala and the government of Guatemala for the brave decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. I promised them as much as possible to allow a quick transfer of the embassy to Israel’s capital. I call for more countries to follow the U.S. and Guatemala, and to move their embassy to Jerusalem!”
Late last year, President Morales became one of the few world leaders to endorse U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. At the AIPAC conference in early March, Morales confirmed his decision to also relocate the Guatemalan embassy to Israel’s capital.
“I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way. His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right,” Morales said at the time.
Despite being a small and largely impoverished Central American country, Guatemala has long represented an important partner for Israel. In 1947, it became one of the first countries to voice support for the creation of the Jewish state; in 1956, it became one of the first Latin American countries to open an embassy in Jerusalem, though later relocated the mission in 1978 to the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya.
Today, as Israel is attempting to build nontraditional allies around the world, Guatemala has expressed an interest in bolstering agriculture, science, technology and security ties with the Israelis.