Just a few days after the State Department announced plans to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May of 2018, Guatemala announced that they will be doing the same. Honduras and Paraguay are now rumored to also be following suit.
On May 14th of 1948, the modern state of Israel was formally established. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of this event, the US Department of State announced that the American embassy would be relocating from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May. At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, the president of Guatemala announced that his country would be making the same move on May 16th, two days after the US moves its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way. His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right.” —President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales
The Trump administration’s original announcement in December of last year to move the American embassy to Jerusalem caused controversy in the Middle East and at the United Nations, despite the commitment to moving the embassy originally occurring in 1995. Since then, the president had been signing a waiver for placing the law into effect every six months. However, with the December announcement from the Trump administration about moving the embassy and the February 23, 2018 finalization of the date, the two-decade-old law will finally be going into effect.
The United Nations General Assembly condemned the US decision two weeks after the initial recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and mere days after the embassy announcement. 128 countries voted in favor of a resolution condemning the American decision, with 9 countries voting to support the decision. The countries voting for the measure were the United States, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. However, there were 35 abstentions and 21 countries who did not participate at all in the vote.
“Jerusalem is our capital; always was, always will be. But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd.” —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
It is now being reported that Paraguay and Honduras are ready “in principle” to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem as well, following the examples of the US and Guatemala. While Guatemala and Honduras voted against the UN resolution condemning the US, it is of importance to note that Paraguay was one of the nations that abstained from the vote. In September of last year, Netanyahu was the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America; his visit did not take him to Paraguay or Honduras, but Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes traveled to Buenos Aires for the express purpose of meeting with Netanyahu.
It has also been reported that Czech President Milos Zeman is seeking to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem as well, despite objections from his country’s foreign ministry. After the US announcement of the date of the embassy move, President Zeman reportedly said, “It makes me truly happy because, as I said during my visit to Israel four years ago, I would like to transfer the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem; had it happened, we would have been the first to do so. Now we may sooner or later follow the United States.”