Middle East

Paraguay to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Paraguay will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by the end of May, a Paraguay government spokesman and the Israeli foreign ministry said on Monday, following the United States and Guatemala.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel, which says the city is its eternal and indivisible capital, and the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state.

“Paraguay President Horacio Cartes plans to come to Israel by the end of the month to open an embassy in Jerusalem,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

A Paraguay government spokesman said Cartes was scheduling a trip to Israel to move the embassy on May 21 or May 22.

In a visit to Venezuela to meet his counterpart there Nicolas Maduro, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he hoped other nations would not follow Paraguay, Guatemala and the United States.

“We hope that other countries on the American continent are not going to move their embassies to Jerusalem as this acts against international law,” said Abbas.

The announcement comes one week before the United States embassy opens in Jerusalem on May 14 in accordance with President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

The U.S. move has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

In March Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, said that his country would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the U.S. move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in April that “at least half a dozen” countries were now “seriously discussing” following the U.S. lead, but he did not identify them.

In December, 128 countries voted in a non-binding U.N. General Assembly resolution calling on the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Nine voted against, 35 abstained and 21 did not cast a vote.

Paraguay’s embassy is currently located near Tel Aviv.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem, Daniela Desantis in Asuncion, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Editing by Toby Chopra and Lisa Shumaker)

 

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