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Israel Welcomes Guatemala's Announcement on Future Embassy Move


FILE - Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands as they deliver statements to the media during their meeting in Jerusalem, Nov. 29, 2016.

Israel is welcoming Guatemala's decision to follow the United States in planning to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"God bless you, my friend, President Morales," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to his Guatemalan counterpart, Jimmy Morales. "Other countries will recognize Jerusalem and announce the relocation of their embassies. A second country did it and I repeat it: there will be others." Netanyahu said on Twitter, "It is just the beginning and it is important."


Meanwhile, Palestinian authorities denounced the decision.

"It's a shameful and illegal act that goes totally against the wishes of church leaders in Jerusalem" and of a non-binding U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the U.S. recognition, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, the French press agency, AFP, reported.

President Morales made the announcement Sunday after telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the plans in a telephone call.

"We talked about the excellent relations we have had since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel. One of the most relevant issues was the return of the Embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem," Morales wrote on Facebook.

Guatemala was one of just nine countries to vote against last week's U.N. General Assembly resolution denouncing President Donald Trump's recent recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and plans to move the U.S. embassy there.

Israel called Guatemala's vote "courageous." Morales gave no timetable for when the Guatemalan embassy will move.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

FILE - A view of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, some of the holiest sites for Jews and Muslims, is seen in Jerusalem's Old City, Dec. 6, 2017.
FILE - A view of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, some of the holiest sites for Jews and Muslims, is seen in Jerusalem's Old City, Dec. 6, 2017.

The Palestinians and much of the international community have said the status of Jerusalem is to be settled as part of peace negotiations.

The Trump administration says recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is a "reflection of reality" and that the physical location of the embassy has no bearing on the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East.

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