Guatemala has announced plans to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, following in Washington’s footsteps.
President Jimmy Morales confirmed the move from Tel Aviv on Sunday, days after Guatemala voted with the US against a non-binding United Nations General Assembly resolution on the matter.
“Today I spoke with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. We are talking about the excellent relations that we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the state of Israel,” Morales said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
“One of the most important topics was the return of the embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem.
“So I inform you that I have instructed the chancellor to initiate the respective coordination so that it may be.”
Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon welcomed the move and expressed gratitude, describing the move as an “important decision” in a Twitter post.
— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) December 25, 2017
On Thursday, Guatemala, the US, Israel, and six other countries voted against the resolution at an emergency UN General Assembly meeting, which declared Washington’s move as “null and void”.
Previously, Morales told local news outlets that his country has historically been “pro-Israel”.
“For 70 years we have maintained relations with Israel, which has always been our ally,” he had said.
Despite threats by the US, a majority of UN member states – 128 members – voted in favour of Thursday’s resolution.
On December 6, US President Donald Trump announced that the US recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said his administration would be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City, prompting international condemnation and widespread protests across the world.
Currently, there are no embassies in Jerusalem.
The status of Jerusalem is extremely sensitive and is one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinian leaders want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says the city cannot be divided.
In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, demonstrations have been met with violence by Israeli forces, who fire live ammunition, disperse tear gas canisters, and carry out a wave of arrests against protesters.
More than 2,900 people have been left injured and more than 500 have been jailed.
In the Gaza Strip, several Israeli air raids killed at least six people, and injured many others.
In total, at least 15 people have been killed across the occupied Palestinian territories in the last three weeks.
On December 13, Muslim leaders from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) declared that that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.
The pan-Muslim body called on the international community to follow its example by rejecting the US stance on Jerusalem as “dangerous”, and called on the UN to “end the Israeli occupation” of Palestine.