By Middle East Affairs
Guatemala is the only country that has followed in the footsteps of the United States, opening its embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, two days after Israel killed more than 62 Palestinians, six of which were children.
Jeresulam, a city that has been home to three religions throughout history is one of the main points of conflict between Israel and Palestine. In international agreements, West Jerusalem was meant to be Israel’s and East Jerusalem Palestine’s, however, coming to present day, Palestinians are still waiting for their sovereignty.
President Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy ignores the Arab community residing in Jerusalem and disregards the city’s duality.
His decision further supports Israel’s belief that all of Jerusalem is their capital, which is false under international agreements. Israel unlawfully occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 and has continued its expansion ever since.
Like the opening of the American embassy which was sparsely attended by the international community, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales were among the few government officials in attendance. To show further support U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman was also present.
Paraguay is the only other nation with plans to relocate its embassy. The arrival of their embassy is expected by the end of May.
Prime Minister Netanyahu praised Guatemala’s decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem. In the opening ceremony, he also pointed to Guatemala’s acceptance of Israel shortly after its creation in 1948. He also promised to visit the Guatemala and its 16 million inhabitants on his next tour of Latin America.
“I look forward to assessing with you the practical ways… that we can advance this friendship and this alliance,” Netanyahu said.
“But today, I just want to say how delighted we are to have you.”
President Morales, in turn, replied that this is a “transcendental moment for future generations”, he went on to say that they will, “remember that friendly countries took courageous decisions in favor of Israel and we do this because you have a special place in our hearts.”
The Guatemalan president is known for his evangelical religious beliefs. Evangelicals believe that the second coming of Christ will coincide with Jews rebuilding their temple in Jerusalem.
Politically, backing the U.S. in such a move is President Morales way of seeking Trump’s support, as he stands accused of taking illegal funds for his campaign.
Gabriel Orellana, the Former Guatemalan foreign minister said that siding with the U.S on this has the same effect as exiling Guatemala “to the fringes of the United Nations.”
This came two days after the bloodiest massacre that Israel had unleashed on Palestinians since the war in 2014. The international community has sent strongly worded criticisms to Israel about their use of violence. The U.N. security council met to prompt an investigation of Israel’s killings, as a way to hold them accountable. The U.S. shortly thereafter blocked the investigation.
Israel maintains that its massacre on Monday of 60 some Palestinians including six children and an infant were on the grounds to defend themselves against terrorism and Hamas.
On Monday, on the eve of Palestine’s 70th anniversary of its Nakba or the day that 700,000 Palestinians lost their homes and become refugees, tens of thousands gathered on the fence in Gaza to express their will of self-determination and their anger of the opening of the embassy. Some closer to the fence threw rocks at the Israeli side, military forces responded by shooting their sniper rifles, shooting drones full of gasoline, and bombing Palestine with tear gas and sound bombs.
Nearly 3000 Palestines were injured including a dozen journalists and medics, some of which remain in critical condition today.
No casualties or injuries were reported on the Israeli side.
Ten countries wrote in support of an investigation into the killings including Belgium, Britain, Germany, and Switzerland.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-Genera, along with the European Union have previously called for an independent in an investigation since Israel killed more than 116 Palestianins in the six-week Great Return marches, a reference to the day that many Palestinians’ grandparents were forced to flee their ancestral homes.