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Paraguay plans to open Jerusalem embassy in November

Israel will also reopen its embassy in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion.

Paraguayan President Santiago Peña greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19, 2023. Credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Paraguayan President Santiago Peña greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19, 2023. Credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO.

Paraguay is set to open the doors of its new Jerusalem embassy in November, in a sign of growing support for Israel in Latin America, Paraguayan officials said on Wednesday.

The move comes as an increasing number of countries have recently voiced their intention to relocate their diplomatic missions to Israel’s capital based on faith-based diplomacy.

Paraguayan President Santiago Peña, who will come to Israel for the embassy launch, had previously said that the office would be opened by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where the two leaders discussed the move alongside an array of bilateral issues in an “excellent meeting,” Peña said in a press briefing from the presidential residence.

“Our history brought us together,” Peña told Netanyahu at the New York meeting. “The present brings us together. But the future will bring us closer than we’ve ever been before.”

Israel will also reopen its embassy in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion.

Back and forth

Paraguay first moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, following then-President Donald Trump’s lead and becoming the third country to do so after the United States and Guatemala.

However, months later, under a new government the embassy was returned to Tel Aviv, setting off a diplomatic crisis with Israel. The surprise decision led Israel to shutter its embassy in Paraguay, citing harm the Paraguayan move had caused to bilateral relations.

Election pledge

During this year’s election campaign in Paraguay, Peña pledged that he would return the embassy to Jerusalem.

“The State of Israel recognizes Jerusalem as its capital,” he said in March. “The seat of the parliament is in Jerusalem, the president is in Jerusalem. So who are we to question where they establish their own capital?”

Landlocked Paraguay, one of the poorest countries in South America, has a long history of friendship with Israel, dating back to its vote for the creation of the Jewish state at the United Nations in 1947.

The select five

Five countries currently have their embassies in Israel’s capital: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papua New Guinea.

The remainder of the 175 countries that have ties with Israel still maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv or in the suburbs of Israel’s economic hub due to political sensitivities regarding the capital.

Former President Donald Trump’s landmark decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 set the stage for other countries to follow suit in the following years, with additional nations expected to make similar announcements in the near future.

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