Paraguay to return embassy to Jerusalem

Paraguay to return embassy to Jerusalem

Paraguay will move its embassy back to Jerusalem by the end of the year, bringing to five the number of countries with embassies in the capital, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The confirmation came just hours after Paraguayan President Santiago Peña was officially inaugurated and is a sign of growing support for Israel in Latin America. 

Israel will also reopen its embassy in Paraguay, according to the ministry, with bilateral ties between the two countries expected to be bolstered by the moves.

“We are continuing to strengthen the international status of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen after a meeting with Peña just hours after he took office. “We will continue to strengthen the historic connection with Latin America, which has stood with the State of Israel and the Jewish People.”

Israel’s top diplomat invited the Paraguayan leader to Israel for the official embassy opening in Jerusalem.

Peña is also expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month.

The planned embassy move was reported by JNS last week.

Back and forth

Paraguay first moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, following then-President Donald Trump’s lead and becoming the third country to do so after the United States and Guatemala.

However, months later, the embassy was returned to Tel Aviv, setting off a diplomatic crisis with Israel. The surprise decision led Israel to shutter its embassy in Paraguay, citing harm the Paraguayan move had caused to bilateral relations.

Election pledge

During this year’s election campaign, Peña pledged that he would return the embassy to Jerusalem.

“The State of Israel recognizes Jerusalem as its capital,” he said in March. “The seat of the parliament is in Jerusalem, the president is in Jerusalem. So who are we to question where they establish their own capital?”

Landlocked Paraguay, one of the poorest countries in South America, has a long history of friendship with Israel, dating back to its vote for the creation of the Jewish state at the United Nations in 1947. 

Four countries currently have their embassies in Israel’s capital: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo.

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