US/World News

Guatemala, Paraguay open new embassies in Jerusalem

(JTA) – A week after the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Guatemala and Paraguay have followed suit and moved their embassies to Jerusalem. Both embassies are located in the Technolgoical park of southern Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales attended the embassy opening Wednesday morning, May 16. “This is the beginning of something extraordinary, or I would say, the re-beginning of something extraordinary, which is the relationship between Guatemala and Israel,” said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in welcoming Morales. Netanyahu noted that Guatemala was the second country behind the United States to recognize Israel’s independence after the partition vote in the United Nations. The United States opened its Jerusalem embassy in the southern Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood on Monday.

Guatemala previously had an embassy in Jerusalem, the first country in the world to open an embassy in the city in 1956. It closed in 1980 following a United Nations Security Council resolution that called for such closures.

Paraguay opened its Jerusalem embassy on May 21 with its president, Horacio Cartes, in attendance. Cartes and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled the official plaque for the building.

Paraguay previously had an embassy in a Jerusalem suburb, which was closed in 2012 in retaliation for Israel closing its diplomatic mission in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion as part of a round of budget cuts. A new Paraguayan embassy opened a year later in the coastal city of Herzliya.

It is not known if Cartes, who will leave office in mid-August, consulted with President-elect Mario Abdo Benítez before announcing the move. “This occasion is of special significance because it expresses the sincere friendship and brave solidarity between Paraguay and Israel,” Cartes said at the dedication. “From the depth of my heart, I appreciate this country that courageously defends its right to live in peace and it is building a praiseworthy economically prosperous state that ensures its future and that of its children,” he added.

Netanyahu called it “a great day for Israel, a great day for Paraguay, a great day for our friendship.” He added that Paraguay has done much for the Jewish people, including help Jews escape Nazi Germany, support the creation of the state of Israel, and supports Israel in international forums. “We remember our friends. We have no better friends than you. Thank you, Horacio. Thank you, Paraguay,” Netanyahu concluded.

CAP: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes as Paraguay opened its new embassy there. (Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AP)

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