Guatemala inaugurates embassy in Jerusalem after United States move


Guatemala inaugurated its new embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, two days after the USA opened its embassy in the disputed holy city.

The inauguration of the Guatemalan embassy, which was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, also comes amid outrage over the Israeli army's killing of 62 Palestinians protesting in the Gaza Strip on Monday. "You were the second country to recognize Israel", Netanyahu said referring to the country's establishment in 1948. You were always among the first.

No country recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital until December 2017, when Trump declared it as such, breaking with decades of USA policy favouring the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Guatemala was one of only a few nations that backed Trump's decision in December to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and is only the second country to move its embassy to the holy city.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to forging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who with broad worldwide backing want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as their capital.

Meanwhile, Paraguay has also announced relocating its embassy to Jerusalem, whereas Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras are considering doing the same.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it annexed after the 1967 conflict, as its capital. The Gaza protesters hurled firebombs and stones towards Israeli troops across the border. USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman also attended Wednesday's ceremony.

No sight of Ramazan moon in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday
The Islamic calendar, like the Jewish calendar, is a lunar calendar and the start of the month changes from one year to the next. According to reports on Saudi Arabian state TV, as published by Arab News, bad weather made observation of the crescent hard .

Israel has faced worldwide criticism over its use of live fire.

Netanyahu hailed the opening of Guatemala's embassy in Jerusalem as "the beginning of something extraordinary" in the relationship between the two countries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always been a fierce critic of Israel and dramatically ratcheted up his rhetoric this week over Gaza and the US embassy move.

All embassies to Israel were situated in the commercial capital Tel Aviv, before the U.S. and Guatemalan embassy moves. It was considered as the bloodiest day of cross-border firing since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

"We are not surprised that a president that has objected to United Nations investigations into corruption and abuses of power has made a decision to further violate worldwide resolutions".

"It's not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem right among the first".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the European Union have previously called for an independent probe, with 116 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since a campaign of protests on the Gaza-Israel border was launched on March 30. Recently a law was passed by the Guatemalan Congress marking May 14 as "Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day".