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Guatemala: City to name all streets after places in Israel

President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales [left], meets the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen during a joint press conference in Jerusalem in 2016
President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales [L], meets the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

A city in Guatemala is to name all its streets after places in Israel in a show of support for the Jewish State after Paraguay’s decision to relocate its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Puerto Barrios, situated on Guatemala’s east coast, passed a unanimous measure to name all the streets in the city after Israeli cities and communities. Mayor of Puerto Barrios, Licenciado Hugo Sarceño, explained the move by saying: “We believe that everyone who helps the State of Israel will be blessed by God. We are great supporters of the State of Israel, we love the citizens of Israel and are interested in deep cooperation between our countries. The connection isn’t just between governments, but between the peoples of our countries,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Sarceño made the announcement while visiting Israel with a high-level delegation from the Guatemalan city, the purpose of which was to strengthen relations between the two countries and attract Israeli investment in infrastructure, transportation and agriculture in Guatemala. During the visit, Sarceño met with Haim Bibas, mayor of Modi’in Macabim Re’ut, a city situated east of Lod (Lydda). Part of Modi’in Macabim Re’ut is not internationally recognised as being inside Israel, as it falls beyond the no man’s land agreed under the 1949 Armistice Agreement with Jordan. This eastern part of the city was occupied by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967, along with Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.

The move to rename Puerto Barrios’ streets was made following the announcement on Wednesday that Paraguay would relocate its embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem. The Palestinians said their foreign minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, met Paraguay’s Foreign Minister, Marito Abdo, two weeks ago and hailed Paraguay’s change of mind as “a new Palestinian diplomatic achievement”.

In retaliation for the relocation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the closure of Israel’s embassy in Paraguay. Abdo called Israel’s reaction “disproportionate,” defending his decision as part of an effort to support “broad, lasting and just peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.

READ: The US will always recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, says Friedman

In May, Guatemala also moved its embassy to Jerusalem and recognised the city as Israel’s capital, following in the footsteps of US President Donald Trump’s decision. Netanyahu joined Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at the opening ceremony, saying: “It is not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem two days after the US. You are always among the first.” Netanyahu was referring to the fact that Guatemala was the second country, after the USA, to recognise the State of Israel in May 1948.

Following the embassy move, the Arab League severed its ties with Guatemala and vowed to take appropriate political and economic measures against it. The Arab League’s spokesman, Mahmoud Afif, added moving the embassy “is a flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions and it threatens international peace.”

READ: UK Foreign Office suspected of planning secret embassy move to Jerusalem

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