Guatemala May Isolate Itself With Jerusalem Embassy Move

© REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun/File Photo / Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem October 8, 2015.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem October 8, 2015. - Sputnik International
Guatemala’s President, Jimmy Morales, has announced that he will relocate his country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 16th May, just two days after the Trump administration is to do the same. Sputnik spoke to Middle East analyst Nicolai Due-Gunderson about the reasons and ramifications.

Sputnik: So many will be scratching their heads asking why Guatemala has decided to follow in the footsteps of the Trump administration and move their embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, can you explain to us why?

Nicolai Due-Gunderson: It’s very interesting that they planned the relocation two days after the US’ planned move. It feels a bit politically symbolic. On the other hand, we have to remember that Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, he discussed the move last December with Netanyahu – that’s one reason. The other is that Guatemala has usually had a policy of supporting Israel. They were one of the first Central American countries to vote for Israel’s establishment back in 1947.

Sputnik: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu prophesized after the US had announced its embassy move in December that other states would eventually follow suit and move their own compounds to the holy city. Is this possibly the start of that do you think?

Nicolai Due-Gunderson: Well, we have to remember that the vote against Israel if you like, and against the Jerusalem move was quite overwhelming. At the same time what we see here with Guatemala is kind of a quid-pro-quo, so Morales announced his decision quite recently at the same time in that announcement he stressed a desire for investment from Jewish communities and he stressed an affinity for the US between Guatemala and the Trump administration. I do feel that this is Guatemala trying to make a move to gain more leverage with the Jewish community and also gain more investment from the US.

Sputnik: Guatemala is of course located in a region where sympathy for the Palestinian cause is very strong amongst regional governments, and anti-US sentiment is pretty strong. Could a move like this serve to politically isolate the government of Guatemala at all do you think?

Nicolai Due-Gunderson: That is quite possible. I think Latin America is very close to the US. So some countries like Guatemala might want a closer relationship with the Trump administration but there are going to be political ramifications and that in itself is a balancing act.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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