Guatemala officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Wednesday, becoming the second country to do so after the U.S. inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem Monday.
At the inaguration, which was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said his country is bringing a message of "love, peace and fraternity" to Israel. The embassy was dedicated at 10 A.M. at offices at the technology park in the Jerusalem’s southern Malkha neighborhood.
"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 beacuse 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.”
- Why the 'Donald Trump of Guatemala' will move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem
- Guatemala to move embassy to industrial park in southwest Jerusalem
- Trump, take note: How Jerusalem went from hosting 16 embassies to zero
"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.
Netanyahu and Morales are scheduled to meet again at the Prime Minister’s Office at 1 P.M., where they will be joined by Guatemala’s foreign minister, Sandra Jovel. They will attend a reception at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, after which Netanyahu and Morales as well as their wives will have dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
In practice, the Guatemalan embassy had already moved to its new offices to the Malkha technology park several weeks ago. At the time, the Israeli prime minister tweeted: “I was moved to see the Guatemalan flag waving in Jerusalem in advance of the opening of the Guatemalan embassy later this month. Dear friends, welcome back to our eternal capital!”
On his visit earlier this year in Washington, Netanyahu met there with Morales, who had spoken the evening before at the annual conference of the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby. At the time, the Guatemalan president announced that along with the United States, Guatemala was moving up the date of the transfer of its embassy to Jerusalem. At their Washington meeting, Netanyahu thanked Morales for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
From elsewhere in Latin America, Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes is due to arrive in Israel on May 21 for the opening of his own country’s embassy in Jerusalem. In addition to Paraguay, political sources in Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have announced in recent months that they are exploring a similar embassy move, but up to now none of those other plans have come to fruition.
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.