Guatemala FM defends Jerusalem embassy move

Guatemala FM defends Jerusalem embassy move
2 min read
27 December, 2017
Guatemala foreign minister Sandra Jovel downplayed a possible fallout for Guatemala's cardamom trade as a result of the Jerusalem announcement, for which Arab and Islamic nations are the largest buyers.
Morales followed Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Christmas Eve [AFP]
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales' top diplomat defended his decision to move Guatemala's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, rejecting on Tuesday international and domestic criticism after he followed Washington's lead in announcing a switch.

Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel said the change amounts to "a foreign policy decision, therefore sovereign," and there is no intention to reverse it.

"What we are doing is being coherent with our foreign policy and the ally we have been for Israel," she added.

Morales announced the change Christmas Eve, becoming the first to follow US President Donald Trump on switching from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israel welcomed Guatemala's announcement, while Palestinian Authority criticised it, referring to it as a “shameful” move.

Guatemala's government has given no timeline for a move, and Trump has also not said when a US switch might be made.

Jovel played down a possible fallout for Guatemala's cardamom trade, for which Arab and Islamic nations are the largest buyers. She noted it represents just 0.37 percent of the country's GDP.

"It is not an issue that should really worry us too much," Jovel said.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its "undivided" capital, a position nearly the entire world rejects saying its status should be determined in peace talks with Palestine.

Under international law East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory.

Since Trump’s announcement, 610 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli authorities’, in addition to the 6,500 Palestinians already imprisoned by Israel, taking the total number of detainees to over 7,000.

Trump's move has been condemned worldwide and protests have taken place globally in the US, UK, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, and Jordan.