Guatemala inaugurates embassy in Jerusalem after U.S. move

  • Guatemala inaugurates embassy in Jerusalem after U.S. move

Guatemala inaugurates embassy in Jerusalem after U.S. move

Guatemala inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, the second country to move its main diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (C-L) and his wife Hilda Patricia Marroquin (L) pose for a group photo with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C-R) and his wife Sara (R) ahead of the dedication ceremony of Guatemala's embassy in Jerusalem on May 16, 2018.

Guatemala, the second country to recognise Israel as a state in 1948, has had a long history of military cooperation with Israel.

"I look forward to assessing with you the practical ways... that we can advance this friendship and this alliance", Netanyahu said. "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now".

The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday triggered deadly clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in Gaza and the West Bank that left 61 dead and over 2,000 others wounded. Besides Guatemala, Paraguay says it will also relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have said they are considering doing the same.

The Arab League and the French government condemned the United States embassy move as illegal and in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions surrounding the conflict.

The Israeli military, which has come under worldwide criticism for firing on unarmed protesters, said Hamas militants tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests and released video of protesters ripping away parts of the barbed-wire border fence. USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman also attended Wednesday's ceremony. Israel's passage in June 1980 of a law proclaiming Jerusalem its "indivisible and eternal capital" led to a UN Security Council resolution calling on Guatemala and several other countries to move their embassies to Tel Aviv. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always been a fierce critic of Israel and dramatically ratcheted up his rhetoric this week over Gaza and the USA embassy move.

It said explosive devices and firebombs were used, while Israeli soldiers were also shot at.

Israel has faced global criticism over its use of live fire.

"The Guatemalan government has chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, to side with violations of worldwide law and human rights, and to take a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arab world", Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Wednesday.

All embassies to Israel were situated in the commercial capital Tel Aviv, before the USA and Guatemalan embassy moves.

The heavy death toll Monday, along with hundreds of wounded, made it by far the bloodiest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. According to health officials, at least 63 Palestinians were killed along the Gaza Strip in the demonstrations Monday.

The Jordanian government also denounced Guatemala for moving its embassy to Jerusalem.