Guatemala president Jimmy Morales follows Donald Trump's lead, set to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May

Washington: Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has announced that his country's embassy in Israel will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, the media reported.

Morales made the announcement on Sunday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference in Washington, reports CNN. His remarks were greeted with cheers and applause.

File image of Guatemala president Jimmy Morales. Wikimedia Commons

File image of  Jimmy Morales. Wikimedia Commons

"As a sovereign decision, we recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Morales said. "In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel's 70th anniversary, and under my instructions, two days after the US moves its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem," he said. Last December, Morales had said that he planned to make the move.

He said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and instructed his foreign ministry to "initiate the process to make it possible".

The Central American nation is the first country to announce it would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since US President Donald Trump, in December, recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, CNN reported.

Trump's decision upended seven decades of US foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. Morales called Trump's decision "courageous". He thanked the American President "for leading the way" and encouraging his country to make what he called the correct move.

In 1947, Guatemala was among the first countries to cast its vote for the establishment of the State of Israel and, in 1959, Guatemala was the first country to open an embassy in Jerusalem, Morales added. Guatemala moved its embassy to Tel Aviv after the UN Security Council in 1980 called on Guatemala and other countries with their embassies in Jerusalem to withdraw. The move came after the Israeli Knesset passed a law stating that Jerusalem—"complete and united"— is the capital of Israel.

Guatemala was one of a handful of nations to vote against a UN resolution condemning Trump's decision.

Updated Date: Mar 06, 2018 12:42 PM

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