Guatemala's president, Jimmy Morales, announced on Sunday the transfer of his country's embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, in support of the US decision and despite the vote of condemnation by the UN General Assembly.
"I gave instructions to the Minister (of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Jovel) to initiate the steps" to implement this decision, wrote the president on his Twitter account, a message broadcast by his press service.
The first head of state to follow suit in Washington, President Morales reported on the social networks of a telephone interview he had earlier with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"One of the most important themes (of the talks) with the (Israeli) Prime Minister was the return of the Guatemalan Embassy to Jerusalem," Morales said, noting the "excellent relations" between the two. country "since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel".
On Friday, President Morales defended his country's support for the United States' decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in the aftermath of the massive UN General Assembly vote condemning the initiative of US President Donald Trump. .
"Guatemala is historically pro-Israel" and "in 70 years of relations, Israel has been our ally," he said.
Guatemala had voted against the UN condemnation, with Honduras, Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands, in addition to the United States and Israel.
"Despite the fact that we have only been nine in the world, we have total certainty and belief that this was the right way," he said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry hailed "the true friendship" that binds Guatemala and Israel after the Central American country announced the transfer of its embassy to Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday hailed "the important" decision of Guatemala to transfer his embassy to Jerusalem as the United States, and predicted that other countries would follow suit.
"Other countries will recognize Jerusalem and announce the transfer of their embassy. A second country did it and I say it again: there will be others, it's just a start and it's important, "Netanyahu said in a statement.
"It is a shameful and illegal act that totally runs counter to the sentiments of the leaders of the churches in Jerusalem" and the recent - non-binding - resolution of the UN General Assembly condemning the recognition by the United States of United of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, said the Palestinian Foreign Ministry in a statement.
Guatemala became the first country to promise to move its diplomatic mission since the speech of US President Donald Trump on December 6, in which he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem . The Czech Republic has also recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"We thank Guatemala for the important decision regarding the transfer of your embassy to Jerusalem! ", Wrote Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the ministry on Twitter. "This is great news, it's a true friendship !! "
"Long live the friendship between Guatemala and Israel," he added in Spanish.
Israeli Deputy Minister of Diplomacy Michael Oren also praised Guatemala's courage.
"Viva Guatemala! It takes courage for a superpower to stand up for justice and to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. But it takes more, [it takes] boldness for a small nation to do it, "Oren wrote on Twitter. "People of Guatemala, the people of Israel will never forget your support and your bravery. "
"Guatemala has shown that they know very well that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. I salute their decision to install their embassy, and I thank them for their friendship, "said President Reuven Rivlin. "We are looking forward to welcoming you. "
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who met with Morales in Israel in November 2016, also paid tribute to his bravery.
"I would like to congratulate my friend, President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales, for his brave decision to move his country's embassy to the eternal capital of Jerusalem," said Edelstein.
"You are showing, by your decision, that you and your country are true friends of Israel, and that the ties that exist between us will be further strengthened and will benefit both. "
During his stay in Israel, Morales also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rivlin.
The prime minister said that "Latin America has always been friendly with Israel, but I think we are in a position where these relations can be good, much more advanced. "
In July, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales decorated outgoing Israeli Ambassador Moshe Bachar with the Order of Quetzal of Great Cross, the country's highest honor, in recognition of his contribution to strengthening the political dialogue between the Central American nation and the country. Jewish state.