Guatemala on Wednesday officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, becoming the second country to do so after the U.S. inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem in controversial circumstances Monday.
During the ceremony attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said his country is bringing a message of “love, peace and fraternity” to Israel.
“This is an important moment for the future of our peoples,” Morales said, calling the embassy move a “courageous decision.”
Netanyahu said at the ceremony that the move was fitting because Guatemala was also the second country to recognize Israel in 1948.
“You are always among the first,” he said. “We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now.”
“My next trip through Latin America goes through Guatemala,” Netanyahu added. The prime minister further said that Israel and Guatemala share many goals and values, saying that the concepts of personal liberty and the rule of law were born in Jerusalem.
“This is the beginning of something extraordinary, or I would say, the re-beginning of something extraordinary, which is the relationship between Guatemala and Israel,” the prime minister.
Both leaders are scheduled to attend a reception at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, after which they will have dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence in company of their wives.
On his visit earlier this year in Washington, Netanyahu met there with Morales, and thanked him for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In addition to Guatemala, Paraguay, political sources in Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have announced in recent months that they are exploring a similar embassy move.
Guatemala was one of seven countries to vote with the Trump administration and Israel on the Jerusalem embassy issue at the United Nations. The others were Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.