Israel welcomes Guatemalan decision to move embassy to Jerusalem

Guatemala City (dpa) - Israel has welcomed Guatemala's decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, almost three weeks after US President Donald Trump took the controversial decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and his country were "true friends of Israel," Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of the Israeli parliament, said on Monday. 
In a statement on Facebook on Sunday, Morales said he had instructed his Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel to initiate the move and had informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the decision.
The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Thursday asking the US to reverse Trump's decision. Only nine countries, including Guatemala, voted against the resolution, while 128 countries were in favour.
Morales had on Friday defended Guatemala's decision to support the US, saying, "Although there were only nine of us in the whole world, we are completely certain and convinced that this is the correct route."
On Sunday, he said Israel and Guatemala had had "excellent relations" since the Jewish state was founded.
Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo also sided with the US and Israel in Thursday's UN vote, while 35 countries abstained.
Some of the US' key allies, including Britain, France and Japan, were among those who ignored threats from the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, to vote in favour of the resolution.
Haley had said Washington would cut funding to those who voted against it and the "US will be taking names."
The status of Jerusalem has been one of the most sensitive and explosive issues in the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel has long claimed Jerusalem as its "undivided capital," while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state."
Israel occupied the eastern half of Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and later annexed the territory in a move that was not internationally recognized.
Trump's December 6 decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there unleashed a barrage of criticism from Arab, European and Muslim leaders.
More than 300,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, which is home to holy sites for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.


Monday, December 25th 2017

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