Guatemala to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is seen with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016

Of his own decision, Morales said, "It is important to be among the first, but it is more important to do it right".

The central American country announced on Sunday (4 March) that the move will take place in May, just two days after the USA relocates its embassy to Jerusalem.

In December, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and instructed the US State Department to launch the process of moving the US Embassy, now located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem.

The announcement came a day after Guatemala's Constitutional Court rejected a local lawyer's attempt to prevent the government from moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales announced to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual convention on Sunday evening that he has ordered the relocation of his nation's embassy to Jerusalem two days after the U.S. Embassy opens in the Israeli capital to mark the 70th Independence Day of the Jewish State.

"I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way", Morales said.

The Guatemalan leader also agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that more countries will follow Washington's lead.

The Palestinians fumed over Trump's move.

In a December 2017 the U.N. General Assembly voted on a resolution condemning Trump's decision. Earlier this month, the U.S. said the move would take place to coincide with Israel's 70th birthday.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to forging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as their capital.

The Palestinian leadership and most of the worldwide community consider East Jerusalem as occupied territory and the future capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.

The Israeli government considers the entire city to be its undivided capital, although the worldwide consensus is that the city's status should be decided through negotiations and not unilateral moves.

Speaking to The Times of Israel after his address, Morales said he has discussed embassy moves with other nations in Europe and Latin America but would not identify them.

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