After Paraguay, Abbas Urges Latin American Leaders: Don't Move Embassies to Jerusalem

The Palestinian president, who is in Venezuela, spoke hours after Israel confirmed Paraguay will open an embassy in Jerusalem

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, May 7, 2018.
JUAN BARRETO/AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Latin American countries late on Monday not to move their embassies to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, describing East Jerusalem as "the capital of the Palestinian state."

Speaking during a visit to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Abbas said most countries respect the status of East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his government was a "friend" of "Arab peoples" and that it supported "the cause of a free, independent and peaceful Palestine."

>> Everything you need to know about next week's U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem >>

Maduro and Abbas also signed cooperation agreements in the energy, trade and military sectors. The two agreed to create a bilateral development fund which will initially be financed with 20 million petros, a Venezuelan cryptocurrency backed by the country's oil reserves.

Abbas's comments came shortly after Israel announced earlier Monday that Paraguay will open an embassy in Jerusalem later this month. The South American country is the third to announce a move to the contested city, after the U.S. and Guatemala. 

Local media in Paraguay reported that the decision to move the relocate the embassy to Jerusalem has drawn criticism in the country, and the decision will be reevaluated under the administration of the incoming president, Mario Abdo Benitez.

Guatemala's embassy moved to Jerusalem last week, although the official ceremony celebrating the move will take place on May 16, two days after the U.S. relocates its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Guatemalean president Jimmy Morales will most likely attend the event.

Based on a White House statement released Monday, it appears unlikely that U.S. President Donald Trump will attend the opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Instead, the administration will be represented by a group of senior officials, the statement said, including Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and her husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president.