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Following US & Guatemala, Paraguay Will Relocate its Embassy to Jerusalem

Paraguay announced it will relocate its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv at the end of May 2018, according to a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Paraguay’s announcement comes amid chaos in the Middle East after Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Iran Deal. Hours after the announcement, reports claimed that Israel had bombed Iranian weapons facilities in Syria, citing unusual activity by Iran.

Paraguay is the third country to move its embassy to Tel Aviv, following the lead of the U.S. and Guatemala.

“Paraguay President Horacio Cartes plans to come to Israel by the end of the month to open an embassy in Jerusalem,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in the statement.

According to Reuters, a Paraguay government spokesman said Cartes was scheduling a trip to Israel to move the embassy on May 21 or May 22.

President Cartes is scheduled to visit Israel a week after the disputed opening of the U.S embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.

In December last year, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced his country would relocate its embassy to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: The story of a disputed city

Jerusalem is one of the world’s oldest cities. The place is the holiest for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The city has been conquered and re-captured at least 20 times, not only by those three religions but also by external powers, including modern-era Israelis and Palestinians.

According to Prof. Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, a historical geographer at Hebrew University, it was the British who made Jerusalem so important and established it as the capital. In 1917, the British general Edmund Allenby took over Jerusalem from the Turkish Ottoman defenders.

In 1947, the U.N issued a partition plan that provided a special status for Jerusalem, placing it under the rule of a “special international regime”.

The plan, however, was rebuffed by the Arab nations. They launched an attack in 1948 after Israel declared its independence. While Israel somewhat reluctantly accepting the idea of international control over Jerusalem, it still moved its government function to the city. Foreign authorities mostly avoided opening their embassies in Jerusalem and chose Tel Aviv instead, in compliance with the U.N. plan.

Before 1980, some countries, including Costa Rica and the Netherlands, set up their embassies in Jerusalem. But after the passing of a law by the Israeli government at that time declaring Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel, the U.N. responded by issuing a resolution denouncing Israel’s takeover of East Jerusalem.

The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 (or known as the six-day war) helped shape the modern control over Jerusalem. The battle marked Israel’s most significant achievement, they defeated Arab armies and took control over the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the West Bank. Israel unanimously said it didn’t annex the Eastern part of Jerusalem, but integrated that section in its territory.

Jerusalem is still a sensitive issue hampering the Middle East peace process. Tensions in the middle-east are heightened after Trump’s Jerusalem endorsement.

How Jerusalem issue affects Latin and Central American nations

Despite being U.S aid recipients, some of the Latin and Caribbean nations opposed Washington’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

After the U.S. opposed the U.N. resolution last December to continue to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, several Latin nations reacted strongly to protest the unanimous decision taken by President Trump.

Uruguay, for example, stressed the White House’s policy to endorse Jerusalem would not improve the peaceful atmosphere needed to reach a fair solution in the Middle East.

Cuba, Venezuela, Equador, and Bolivia condemned Washington’s Jerusalem policy.

Mexico stated it would maintain its embassy in Tel Aviv and also supported the rights of Palestinians.

“Mexico will maintain its friendly bilateral relations with the state of Israel…and it will also support the historic claims of the Palestinian people,” said Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

However, the abstentions of Paraguay, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and Panama from the UN vote showed that they have a fairly good relationship with the Jewish state as the Jerusalem Post wrote.

Colombia, one of Israel’s closest friends declined to comment on Jerusalem’s status. But Palestinian’s Diplomatic Mission in Colombia criticized Trump’s controversial decision.

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Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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