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Guatemala announces it will move embassy to Jerusalem, thanks Trump for 'leading the way

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the lead of the United States, the president of Guatemala announced Sunday that his country will permanently move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, and under my instructions, two days after the U.S. will move its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem,” President Jimmy Morales announced at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C.

“I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way,” Morales said during his speech. “His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right.”

Guatemala was the first country to have a Jerusalem-based embassy in Israel but moved it in 1980 at the urging of the U.N security council. Now it is the first country to join the United States in moving its embassy back to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. On Dec. 24, it became the first non-U.S. nation to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“We are sure that many other countries will follow in our steps,” Morales said confidently.

The White House issued an official statement on Dec. 6 declaring that “it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Unlike Guatemala, 128 countries backed a U.N. General Assembly resolution, asking the U.S. to rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Other than Guatemala, only six countries joined the U.S. and Israel in voting against the U.N. resolution: Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo.

Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, but since then every U.S. president has continued to renew a waiver to delay the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv for six additional months.

On Dec. 20, President Donald Trump indicated that he would end financial aid to any nation that supported the U.N. in condemning the embassy move. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump said at the time.

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