Guatemala opens Israel embassy in Jerusalem after US move - Daily Nation

Guatemala opens Israel embassy in Jerusalem after US move

Wednesday May 16 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the inauguration ceremony of Guatemala's embassy in Jerusalem on May 16, 2018. Guatemala inaugurated its Israel embassy in Jerusalem on May 15, becoming the first country to follow in the footsteps of the United States' deeply controversial move, breaking with decades of international consensus. PHOTO | POOL | RONEN ZVULUN | AFP 

By AFP
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JERUSALEM,

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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales were among officials attending an inauguration ceremony at the new embassy at an office park in the disputed city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

PROTESTS

The US and Guatemalan moves break with decades of international consensus.

Netanyahu profusely praised the Central American nation for making the move and noted it came only two days after the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem.

The Israeli premier said he would visit Guatemala on his next visit to Latin America.

The US embassy move on Monday was accompanied by mass protests and clashes along the Gaza bForder that saw Israeli forces kill 60 Palestinians.

Israel has faced international criticism over its use of live fire, but says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop mass infiltrations from the Palestinian enclave, which is run by Islamist movement Hamas.

This came as Turkey told the Israeli consul general in Istanbul to leave the country temporarily, the latest of a series of tit-for-tat expulsions in a growing crisis over Israel's deadly firing on Palestinians on the Gaza border.

The Turkish foreign ministry has told the consul to leave Turkey "for a period of time", the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

60 DEAD

Turkey had already withdrawn its ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultations and told the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to leave, while Israel ordered the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave for an unspecified period of time.

The row, which on Tuesday saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu exchange bitter jibes on Twitter, threatens a 2016 deal on normalising ties after a long-running crisis.

Turkey has expressed outrage over the killing by Israeli forces on Monday of 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border and also blamed tensions on the US decision to move its embassy for Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Erdogan will on Friday host an emergency summit meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul which he has said will send a "strong message to the world" on the issue.

The 2016 reconciliation deal ended a dispute over the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos that saw relations downgraded.

That deal was strongly backed by the United States, which was keen to see Israel make up with one of its very few key Muslim partners.

'NOT FORGIVE'

But Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, has never shied away from criticism of Israel even as ministers pressed energy cooperation between the two sides.

Erdogan this week has accused Israel of "genocide" and told Netanyahu he is leading an "apartheid state" while having the "blood of Palestinians" on his hands.

Netanyahu meanwhile told Erdogan that as a leading supporter of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "there's no doubt he's an expert on terror and slaughter".

In a tweet titled "Reminder to Netanyahu", Erdogan then denied that Hamas is a terror group, saying it is a "resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power".

After talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, Erdogan warned that history "will not forgive" Israel or the United States for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem in defiance of the Islamic world.