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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 May 2018

Paraguay to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Palestinian president hopes other nations will not follow suit

Birds fly on a foggy day near the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on January 2, 2018. Paraguay has said it plans to follow the US by moving its embassy in Israel to Erasable, in a move which has angered Palestinians. Ammar Awad / Reuters
Birds fly on a foggy day near the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on January 2, 2018. Paraguay has said it plans to follow the US by moving its embassy in Israel to Erasable, in a move which has angered Palestinians. Ammar Awad / Reuters

Paraguay will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by the end of May, a Paraguay government spokesman and the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Monday, following the United States and Guatemala.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel, which says the city is its eternal and indivisible capital, and the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state.

"Paraguay President Horacio Cartes plans to come to Israel by the end of the month to open an embassy in Jerusalem," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

A Paraguay government spokesman said Cartes was scheduling a trip to Israel to move the embassy on May 21 or May 22.

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In a visit to Venezuela to meet his counterpart there Nicolas Maduro, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he hoped other nations would not follow Paraguay, Guatemala and the US. “We hope that other countries on the American continent are not going to move their embassies to Jerusalem as this acts against international law,” said Mr Abbas.

The announcement comes one week before the United States embassy opens in Jerusalem on May 14 in accordance with President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of the city as Israel's capital.

The US move has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognised internationally.

In March Guatemala's president, Jimmy Morales, said that his country would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the US move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in April that "at least half a dozen" countries were now "seriously discussing" following the US lead, but he did not identify them.

In December, 128 countries voted in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling on the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Nine voted against, 35 abstained and 21 did not cast a vote.

Paraguay's embassy is currently located near Tel Aviv.