Guatemalan president to Israeli president: Your enemies are my enemies

Rivlin asked Giammattei whether he would also be meeting with the Palestinian leadership during his visit, and the reply was a definite "no."

President Reuven Rivlin with President-elect Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, December 8, 2019. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin with President-elect Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, December 8, 2019.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
It is extremely rare in any bilateral relationship to experience two presidential visits from the same country in less than two years.
But Guatemala has a very special relationship with Israel, which goes back to before the establishment of the state.
Outgoing Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales came to Israel in May 2018 for the opening of the Guatemalan Embassy, which had moved to Jerusalem. Now, new president-elect Alejandro Giammattei, who is due to take office on January 14, is in Israel to attend the world conference of parliamentarians taking place in Jerusalem.
Giammattei met on Sunday with President Reuven Rivlin and told him that Israel is not just a friend, but an ally. “Israel has proven that it is on our side in times of need,” he said. “And that’s why Israel is our last stop in our tour of friendly allied nations.”
The president-elect, who is known to be pro-Israel, underscored the importance of the Jewish state’s security to Guatemala and pledged that under his tenure, Guatemala will continue to vote with Israel in international forums.
“Israel’s friends are our friends,” he declared. “And Israel’s enemies are our enemies.”
Giammattei said that it would be a great honor for him if Rivlin would come to his inauguration, especially as no senior Israeli official had visited his country in more than 40 years. Rivlin in turn invited Giammattei to return to Jerusalem on January 22 for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Noting that only a few weeks had elapsed between the time that he was voted president and the time that he took office, Rivlin told his guest – who was elected in August – that it was too long a time to wait till January in order to be able to exercise his powers.
Rivlin voiced appreciation for Guatemala’s role in facilitating the establishment of the State of Israel, and also to Morales for moving the embassy.
He also noted that there is a Guatemala Street in the capital’s Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood.
Rivlin asked Giammattei whether he would be meeting with the Palestinian leadership during his visit, and the reply was a definite “no,” albeit accompanied by an offer to help in any way possible to resume the peace process.
The two men also discussed cooperation on security, economic, health, agriculture and water issues.
Giammattei has a vision of making it possible for the whole world to have drinking water.
He also spoke about the possibility of forming an economic union between the Central American countries and organizing an annual international investment fair.
As far as the economic alliance goes, the Guatemalan president-elect acknowledged that there are still some problems with Nicaragua.
Regarding international trade, Giammattei commented that the Panama Canal is a center for world trade.
While in Jerusalem, Giammattei will attend a gala dinner at the Friends of Zion Museum along with Guatemalan Economy Minister Antonio Malouf, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) chairman Daniel Atar, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Guatemalan Ambassador to Israel Mario Bucaro. Also attending will be Latin American diplomats and dignitaries from KKL-JNF branches in Latin America.


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