Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes arrived in Israel on Sunday night to celebrate Monday’s opening of his country’s embassy in Jerusalem.
Paraguay is the third country in eight days to open an embassy in the capital, following the US last Monday and Guatemala on Wednesday. Honduras is likely to follow suit.Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cartes will be at the opening ceremony, which will be followed by a Foreign Ministry reception.Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who met Cartes at Ben-Gurion International Airport, said the opening of Paraguay’s embassy in Jerusalem “is an important step.”“Recognition of Jerusalem represents a change in the global political map: More and more countries support our positions and want to strengthen relations with us. In recent years, Paraguay has proved through a series of courageous decisions that it is a true friend,” Erdan said.He thanked Cartes for his support and leadership.PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi called on Paraguay to reverse its decision. “Paraguay has conspired with Israel, the United States and Guatemala to entrench the military occupation and to seal the fate of occupied Jerusalem,” Ashrawi said. “We call on Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes to retract his decision and take the necessary steps to hold Israel accountable for its flagrant violations of human rights and crimes against humanity.”Denunciations of the opening of the three embassies were also heard from the Arab world.On Sunday, more than 10,000 Moroccans took to the streets of Casablanca chanting “Death to Israel.” The marchers carried Palestinian flags and placards that read “Al Quds (Jerusalem) Palestine’s eternal capital.” Most appeared to be Islamists, with women wearing head scarves and marching separately from men.The Casablanca protest had been called by a coalition of four parties including the Islamist opposition group al-Adl Wal Ihsan, which is seen as Morocco’s most powerful opposition group in terms of rallying supporters on the street.Rabat, the capital of Morocco, shelved plans for a twin city partnership with Guatemala City, to protest against its Jerusalem embassy “in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Deputy Mayor Lahcen El Amrani of the Islamist Justice and Development Party told Reuters.
Paraguay to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, May 7, 2018 (Reuters)
On Friday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which met in Istanbul, called on Muslim countries to impose “economic restrictions” on countries that open embassies in Jerusalem.Also in Istanbul on Friday, hundreds of thousands of Turks poured into the streets for a rally denouncing the killings, according to Hamas figures, of more than 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during demonstrations on the Gaza border.Paraguay and Israel have had diplomatic ties since 1949. But a July 2016 visit by Cartes to Israel marked the first time a Paraguayan president had arrived in the country. The two men also met in Buenos Aires in 2017, when Netanyahu visited Latin America.
Mass rally held in Istanbul against Israeli killings of Palestinians in Gaza, May 19, 2018 (Reuters)