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Guatemala opens new embassy in Jerusalem following USA lead

Guatemala opens new embassy in Jerusalem following USA lead

Guatemala opens new embassy in Jerusalem following USA lead

Guatemala inaugurated its Israel embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, becoming the first country to follow in the footsteps of the United States' deeply controversial move.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales also said in December that the country would move its embassy back to Jerusalem.

Israel has been buoyed by the new Jerusalem missions, which have infuriated the Palestinians.

The US embassy move on Monday was accompanied by mass protests and clashes along the Gaza border that saw Israeli forces kill 60 Palestinians. Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and consul general and several European countries summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their foreign ministries for questioning and called for an worldwide investigation.

"We highly value our relations with all European Union member states".

The US and Guatemalan moves break with decades of global consensus. "Therefore we consider the participation in this event a contradiction to such values", said Amal Jadou, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official.

Israel has always claimed Jerusalem as its capital yet most countries opted to place their embassies in coastal Tel Aviv because of the holy city's contested status.

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Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

The move comes just two days after the USA opened its own embassy in the city.

"You are always among the first, always among the first.We remember our friends, and Guatemala is our friend - then and now", Netanyahu went on, recalling that Guatemala was the second nation, after the USA, to recognize Israel in May 1948.

All embassies to Israel were situated in the commercial capital Tel Aviv, before the U.S. and Guatemalan embassy moves.

Jimmy Morales, the Guatemalan President, arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday ahead of today's ceremony to a rapturous welcome; Jerusalem's old city walls were even illuminated with the Guatemalan flag and a message thanking Morales for his support.

Aron Heller is an Associated Press writer.

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