Tel Aviv, May 17: Guatemala opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The Central-American nation becomes the second country to do so after the United States. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales opened the embassy just two days after the US inaugurated its new site in the disputed city. The transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the US invited a lot of criticism from Palestine and the international community.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted Guatemala’s move. At the ceremony, he said, "You were always among the first, "Netanyahu further added, "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now." In December The US announced to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, but it is not recognised by international community. The Palestinians always want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The embassy move aggravated the conflict between Palestinians and Israel. The Palestinians in the weekly protests in Gaza demands the right of return to Israel and the lifting of a decade-old naval blockade. The Israeli forces killed nearly 60 Palestinians in the clashes along the border this Monday. The Gaza protesters hurled firebombs and stones towards Israeli troops across the border. Israel, however, accused Hamas militants of carrying out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests. It was considered as the bloodiest day of cross-border firing since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
Israel was criticised internationally for killing unarmed Palestinians. Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador. Consul general and several European countries summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their foreign ministries. These countries also demanded an international investigation.
Meanwhile, Paraguay has also announced relocating its embassy to Jerusalem, whereas Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras are considering doing the same. In the ceremony which was held on Wednesday, Morales said that Guatemala was bringing a message of "love, peace and fraternity" to Israel. Recently a law was passed by the Guatemalan Congress marking May 14 as "Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day."