Guatemala to move Israeli embassy to Jerusalem in May

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is seen with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is seen with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016

"In May of this year we will celebrate Israel's 70th anniversary, and under my instructions two days after the USA will move its embassy, Guatemale will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem", Morales told a gathering of more than 18,000 people.

In his speech, Morales highlighted that in 1959, Guatemala was the first country to open an embassy in Jerusalem, although it was moved to Tel Aviv after the worldwide community rejected Israeli claims to East Jerusalem.

A few days later, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced that his government would also move its embassy to Jerusalem, making it the first country to do so after the U.S.

Guatemala is among seven nations who on December 21 sided with the United States and Israel on a UN General Assembly resolution rejecting Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The step has prompted criticism from a number of states, first and foremost those in the Middle East and Palestine, and triggered a wave of protests in the region. "We are sure that many other countries will follow in our footsteps". "I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way", he said. Trump's move reversed decades of United States policy, upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.

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After Morales' announcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "there will be more, this is just the beginning". Earlier this month, the U.S. said the move would take place to coincide with Israel's 70th birthday. "It's the right thing to do", said Morales.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales told a cheering crowd on Sunday that "as a sovereign decision, we recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel".

There had always been worldwide consensus that the city's status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking to The Times of Israel after his address, Morales said he has discussed embassy moves with other nations in Europe and Latin America but would not identify them.

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