Guatemala to move embassy to Jerusalem, backing Trump

A partial view of Jerusalem's Old City with the Dome of the Rock on the right.
A partial view of Jerusalem's Old City with the Dome of the Rock on the right.PHOTO: AFP

GUATEMALA CITY (REUTERS) - Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on Sunday (Dec 24)  he had given instructions to move the Central American country's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a few days after his government backed the United States in a row over the city's status.

In a short post on his official Facebook account, Mr Morales said he decided to move the embassy from Tel Aviv after talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

This month US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of US policy and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.

On Thursday, 128 countries defied Trump by backing a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem.

Guatemala was one of only a handful of countries to join the United States and Israel in voting against the resolution.

The United States is an important source of assistance to Guatemala, and Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favor of the UN resolution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the decision by Guatemala, saying other nations would also follow Washington’s controversial lead. 
“Other countries will recognise Jerusalem and announce the relocation of their embassies. A second country did it and I repeat it: there will be others, it’s just the start and it’s important,” Netanyahu said in a statement. 
Guatemala’s announcement on Sunday came after the UN General Assembly approved a motion rejecting US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.