Paraguay will move its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of May, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Monday, making it the third country, following the US and Guatemala, to announce that step.
U.S. Embassy roadsigns go up in Jerusalem, May 7, 2018 (Reuters)
The US is scheduled to move its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, followed two days later by Guatemala.
Nahshon announced the Paraguayan move in a Twitter post that said Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes will come to the country to open the embassy.
“Wonderful news as the international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital gathers momentum,” he wrote.
Reuters quoted a Paraguay government spokesman saying Cartes was scheduling a trip to Israel to signify moving the embassy on May 21 or May 22.
A week ago, Cartes, at a ceremony in Asuncion to mark Israel’s 70th birthday, pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and said he would like to do so before he leaves office in mid-August.
Cartes, whose successful campaign team in 2013 included a group of Israeli advisers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former bureau chief Ari Harow, was last in Israel in 2016.
Soon after his election in 2013, Cartes told then-deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin, who attended his inauguration, that he was interested in strengthening bilateral relations with Israel as well as pursuing an “independent” policy of supporting Israel in international forums, as opposed to the voting patterns of the vast majority of Latin American states.
Since then, Paraguay has consistently either abstained or voted for Israel on major international votes.
Paraguay was one of the 35 countries that abstained in the UN General Assembly vote in December that slammed the US move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move its embassy there.
Israel closed its embassy in Asunción in 2002 because of budgetary considerations, and as a result Paraguay closed its embassy in Tel Aviv.
Paraguay reopened its offices in 2014, and Israel reopened its embassy in Paraguay in 2015, even as it decided to close consulates at other locations as a cost-saving measure.