Guatemala’s Israel embassy to move to Jerusalem in mid-May

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala said Monday it will transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the second week of May, in parallel with a similar and widely criticized move by the United States of its own diplomatic mission scheduled for around the same time.

Heinz Heimann, spokesman for President Jimmy Morales, announced the timeline and defended the move against criticism by saying foreign policy decisions are a matter of Guatemalan sovereignty.

Heimann said the move would take place two days after the United States’, but did not specify the exact date. He added that for security reasons the location of the new embassy is not being made public for now.

The announcement came a day after Morales met in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. Embassy is slated to move in mid-May into a temporary location in Jerusalem that is now an annex of the U.S. consulate.

President Donald Trump said Monday that he was looking into the possibility of traveling to the city then.

Guatemala is one of nine nations that sided with the United States in a December U.N. vote condemning Washington’s decision to move its embassy, and Morales’ government later announced it would do the same.

Morales met in Washington in early February with Trump, who at the time expressed gratitude for his support on the issue.

Trump’s announcement in early December upended decades of U.S. policy during which the country, like many other nations, maintained its embassy in Tel Aviv amid rival Israeli and Palestinian claims over Jerusalem.

Israel claims all of the city as its capital while Palestinians claim rights to the eastern sector, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and is home to sensitive religious sites.

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