In a festive ceremony President Jimmy Morales says as Guatemala becomes 2nd country after the US to open an embassy in Israel’s capital, “We are brothers, Israel holds a special place in our hearts.”
• PM Benjamin Netanyahu: We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend.
By Shlomo Cesana, Mati Tuchfeld, Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
Guatemala has opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, the second country to open an embassy in the Israeli capital after the United States.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales dedicated the embassy Wednesday, two days after a high-powered American delegation marked the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was fitting for Guatemala to be one of the first countries to relocate its embassy since Guatemala also followed the U.S. to be the second country to recognize Israel 70 years ago.
“You were always among the first,” he said. “We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now.”
Netanyahu said he was happy to welcome the Guatemalan delegation and said he wanted to discuss ways to promote bilateral ties. He also promised that he would kick off his next visit to Latin America in Guatemala City.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, Morales said his country was bringing a message of “love, peace and fraternity” to Israel. The Guatemalan Congress recently passed a law designating May 14 “Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day.”
“We are brothers,” Morales said. “There has been an alliance between Israel and Guatemala for 70 years. We feel at home because we know that the Israeli people love the Guatemalan people. In generations to come, your children will remember that a brave country did brave things on your behalf because you hold a special place in our heart.”
Morales arrived in Israel on Tuesday and was welcomed by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who thanked him for his decision to move the Guatemalan Embassy.
“As in Israel’s first days, Guatemala is still a true friend to Israel, and is the second country after the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem,” Levin said.
“In the end, the truth is winning, and more and more the world is starting to recognize our [Israel’s] rights.”
Guatemalan Foreign Affairs Minister Sandra Jovel, also in Israel as part of her country’s delegation, visited the Knesset on Tuesday and met with the chairwoman of the Israel-Guatemala Parliamentary Friendship Group, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton.
Shasha-Biton told Jovel, “I would like to thank you and your country for the brave and significant step in relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, which is scheduled for tomorrow. This is a historic day and Israel is grateful to you.”
Jovel said, “I feel at home. The relations between the two countries will steadily strengthen.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement Tuesday, “Guatemalan Embassy, welcome home! Ahead of the inauguration of the embassy, we have illuminated the walls of the Old City with the flags of Guatemala and Israel. I thank President Jimmy Morales Cabrera of Guatemala for his courageous decision and am honored that we will be opening the embassy in the capital of Israel tomorrow.”
The Jerusalem Municipality projected images of the Guatemalan, U.S., and Israeli flags on the walls of the Old City Tuesday night.
The Guatemalan Embassy move is the focus of much media attention in the Central American nation. Two weeks ago, a contingent of Guatemalan media representatives arrived in Israel to tour the new embassy headquarters, located in the tech park across from the shopping mall in the Malha neighborhood.
Paraguay has also announced that it will soon be relocating its embassy to the capital.
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