partlycloudy
Thursday May 24th, 2018 5:02PM

Following US lead, Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JERUSALEM (AP) — Guatemala festively opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, becoming the second country to do so after the United States, and giving Israel a diplomatic boost as it faces international criticism for the deadly violence on the Gaza border.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales dedicated the embassy just two days after a high-powered American delegation also marked the transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was fitting since Guatemala also followed the U.S. to be the second country to recognize Israel 70 years ago.

"You were always among the first," he said at the ceremony. "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now."

President Donald Trump announced his decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the American embassy there, triggering a joyous reaction from Netanyahu's government.

Israel has always claimed Jerusalem as its capital yet most countries opted to place their embassies in coastal Tel Aviv because of the holy city's contested status. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and view the relocation of the embassy as a one-sided move that invalidates the U.S. as a Mideast peace broker.

The embassy move added fuel to the weekly Palestinian protests in Gaza demanding the right of return to Israel and the lifting of a decade-old naval blockade.

They culminated Monday when Israel killed nearly 60 Palestinians in clashes along the border.

The Gaza protesters set tires ablaze, sending up thick plumes of black smoke, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. The Israeli military, which has come under international criticism for firing on unarmed protesters, said Hamas militants tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests and released video of protesters ripping away parts of the barbed-wire border fence. The military said 14 of those killed Monday were actively involved in carrying out attacks.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel did everything it could to prevent civilian casualties but that Gaza's Hamas rulers were to blame for using them as human shields.

"The Hamas leadership is a group of cannibals who treat their children as armament," he said during a visit to a military base in southern Israel. "They have rocket armament, personal armament and another kind of armament — their children and women."

Since the Hamas-led protests began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 wounded by live fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Palestinian officials say the vast majority of the casualties have been unarmed protesters.

The heavy death toll Monday, along with hundreds of wounded, made it by far the bloodiest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. It also triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel.

The U.N. Security Council held a special session that began with a moment of silence for the Palestinians who were killed. In Geneva, the U.N. human rights office said Israel has repeatedly violated international norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters.

Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and consul general and several European countries summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their foreign ministries for questioning and called for an international investigation.

The diplomatic spat with Turkey intensifed after what Israel called the humiliating treatment of its ambassador, who was subjected to a severe security screening upon his departure from the airport in Istanbul. The event was intentionally captured by Turkish media. In response, Israel has summoned a top Turkish diplomat to be reprimanded.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been a fierce critic of Israel and dramatically ratcheted up his rhetoric this week over Gaza and the U.S. embassy move. Netanyahu retorted that a "man whose hands are drenched in the blood of countless Kurdish civilians in Turkey and Syria is the last one who can preach to us about military ethics."

At the same time, Israel has found other nations following the U.S. lead and rallying to its defense. Besides Guatemala, Paraguay says it will also relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have said they are considering doing the same.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Morales said his country was bringing a message of "love, peace and fraternity" to Israel. The Guatemalan Congress recently passed a law marking May 14 as "Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day."

Marking the move, the Jerusalem municipality illuminated the walls of the Old City walls late Tuesday with flags of Guatemala, Israel and the United States and a message thanking Morales.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
False starts, failures in diplomacy with North Korea
Pyongyang's surprise declaration to break off a high-level meeting with Seoul and threat to scrap next month's historic summit with Washington provides a fresh reminder of failures and false starts that shattered previous diplomatic attempts
4:05AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar freed, given royal pardon
Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from custody after receiving a royal pardon, paving the way for a political comeback following his alliance's stunning election victory
3:58AM ( 11 minutes ago )
4 shot dead in attack on Indonesia police; officer killed
Indonesian police have shot dead four sword-wielding men who attacked a police headquarters in Sumatra, killing one officer, the latest in a spate of militant attacks across the Muslim-majority country
3:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Bill Gates gives $44M to influence state education reform
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates saw an opportunity with a new federal education law that has widespread repercussions on American classrooms
2:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
Gulf Arab states rebuke Israel, but alliances inch closer
Arab states have condemned Israel's violent response to Gaza's border protests, but behind the scenes a quiet realignment may be underway
2:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
Bill Gates gives $44M to states navigating new education law
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates saw an opportunity with a new federal education law that has widespread repercussions on American classrooms
2:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
As lava destroys Hawaii homes, owners ask: Am I covered?
As volcanic fissures keep opening up on Hawaii's Big Island and spewing out lava, homeowners are desperately trying to find out if their insurance covers possible losses
10:57PM ( 5 hours ago )
Judge: Special counsel had authority to prosecute Manafort
A federal judge in Washington says special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort
10:56PM ( 5 hours ago )
Judge tosses California law allowing life-ending drugs
California judge says Legislature unconstitutionally enacted 2016 state law allowing the terminally ill to end their lives
10:39PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
False starts, failures in diplomacy with North Korea
Pyongyang's surprise declaration to break off a high-level meeting with Seoul and threat to scrap next month's historic summit with Washington provides a fresh reminder of failures and false starts that shattered previous diplomatic attempts
4:05AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar freed, given royal pardon
Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from custody after receiving a royal pardon, paving the way for a political comeback following his alliance's stunning election victory
3:58AM ( 11 minutes ago )
4 shot dead in attack on Indonesia police; officer killed
Indonesian police have shot dead four sword-wielding men who attacked a police headquarters in Sumatra, killing one officer, the latest in a spate of militant attacks across the Muslim-majority country
3:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
Glover's wife arrested on domestic violence charges
Wife of Lucas Glover facing domestic violence charges from altercation after Players Championship
2:38AM ( 1 hour ago )
Celtics survive 42-point night by LeBron, down Cavs 107-94
Jaylen Brown scores 23 points, Celtics withstand 42-point night by LeBron James to hold off the Cavaliers 107-94
2:29AM ( 1 hour ago )