Guatemala’s decision followed the steps the United States (US) moved the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to criticism. Guatemala confirmed the decision to be Guatemalan sovereignty that should not affect relations with other countries.
“This is a foreign policy and Guatemalan sovereign decision,” said Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel at a recent press conference.
“Under any circumstances, we are open to talking to countries that see it that way, but I am not sure this will trigger problems with other countries,” he added.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has ordered the transfer of the Guatemalan Embassy to Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The announcement made Guatemala the first country to follow the US move the embassy to Jerusalem.
The decision came after the UN General Assembly voted last week to say a majority of member states criticized Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A total of 128 UN member states, including Indonesia, support an international consensus stating that the status of Jerusalem can only be determined through peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
In the voting, Guatemala was included in seven countries that rejected a UN resolution denouncing the US decision on Jerusalem. Besides Guatemala, six other countries that refuse to criticize the US include Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.
Palestinian Authority through its Foreign Ministry, criticized Guatemala’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem as a ‘shame and illegal’ move. But Jovel, who is a Guatemalan minister, said there had been no phone calls from Ambassadors of other countries that objected to the Guatemalan move.
Jovel added, the move of this kind of embassy has done before Guatemala. “What we are doing is returning our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which has been the location of our embassy for several years,” he said.
Jovel refers to the decision of former Guatemalan President Ramiro de Leon Carpio who served in 1993-1996 ago. At that time Leon Carpio decided to move the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem, but the move was lifted after a number of Muslim-majority countries closed access to Guatemalan goods.
Currently, Guatemala is much more dependent on the US. At least US $ 750 million (US $ 10 trillion) in aid was given to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to ward off crime and poverty that sparked a wave of immigrants into the US.