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Guatemala opens new embassy in Jerusalem following United States lead

Guatemala opens new embassy in Jerusalem following United States lead

Guatemala previously had an embassy in Jerusalem, the first country in the world to open an embassy in the city in 1956.

US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, enraging Palestinians, has left several Latin American countries pondering whether to follow suit. Placed during the week that Palestinian marks the 70th anniversary of Nakba, the cataclysmic exodus which followed the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, both openings are an attempt to divert the worldwide community's attention.

The event marks the day when Israel was created in the midst of a violent campaign that led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales also said in December that the country would move its embassy back to Jerusalem.

Nearly half a century on, Guatemala's new position can be seen as both a parroting of USA foreign policy and as a chance to strengthen relations with Israel, from which it buys most of its arms.

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"You are always among the first, always among the first.We remember our friends, and Guatemala is our friend - then and now", Netanyahu went on, recalling that Guatemala was the second nation, after the USA, to recognize Israel in May 1948.

No country recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital until December 2017, when Trump declared it as such, breaking with decades of U.S. policy favouring the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Paraguay is scheduled to open a Jerusalem embassy on May 21 with its president, Horacio Cartes, due to be in attendance.

Guatemala was the first nation after the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, on December 24, 2017.

Carlos Meyer, one of two Guatemalan diplomats stationed in Israel, has already moved to a new apartment in the capital's Nahlaot neighborhood. It closed in 1980 following a United Nations Security Council resolution that called for such closures.