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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes during their meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, on May 21, 2018. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER / POOL
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes during their meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, on May 21, 2018. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER / POOL

Paraguay's president opens embassy to Israel in Jerusalem

By moving their embassies to Jerusalem, the U.S., Guatemala and now Paraguay recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, though a large part of the international…

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The president of Paraguay on Monday followed the United States and Guatemala by opening his country's embassy to Israel in Jerusalem at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries and members of the press.

Horacio Cartes and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv, a week after 60 Palestinians were killed by Israel in protests against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Cartes said the embassy's opening "cements another historic event in our vigorous bonds of friendship."

Netanyahu added, "This is a great day for Israel, a great day for Paraguay, a great day for our friendship."

By moving their embassies to Jerusalem, the U.S., Guatemala and now Paraguay recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, though a large part of the international community opposes this stance, as the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians mandated that the city's final status be settled by negotiations.

Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in 1980, as the capital of their future state.

The secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, said Paraguay's embassy move had been "widely rejected" by both the international community as well as major Muslim and Christian religious organizations, including Pope Francis.

"By opening its embassy in Jerusalem, Paraguay is violating (United Nations Security Council) Resolution 478 as well as the very dignity of the peoples of Latin America that have struggled for freedom and justice against domination and oppression," Erekat explained.

Calling Cartes "an irresponsible political leader," Erekat said the PLO was in contact with "several allies to advance with the necessary diplomatic steps against the recent illegal moving of the embassies of Paraguay, Guatemala, and the U.S."

On May 14, tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in the Gaza Strip against the U.S. embassy's inauguration and were met with live ammunition and tear gas by the Israeli army, which killed 60 Palestinians and injured over 3,100 along the Gaza-Israel boundary.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales opened his country's Jerusalem embassy on May 16 in the Malha Technology Park, where Paraguay's embassy is also located.

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