Paraguay delivered a diplomatic blow to Israel when it announced it would return its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. The move shocked and angered Israel.

“The government of the Republic of Paraguay considers it pertinent to re-establish the seat of the embassy in the State of Israel to the location previous to the communique dated 9 of May of 2018,” Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni said.

Paraguay Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni, Photo, GPO

Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the foreign ministry to close its embassy in Paraguay.

“Israel views with extreme gravity the unusual decision of Paraguay that will cloud relations between the two countries,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated. 

Less than four months ago, Paraguay became the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem after President Trump’s historic move, followed by Guatemala.

At the time Netanyahu hailed the deep friendship between the two countries and personal friendship with then-President Horacio Cartes.

“[It’s] a great day for Israel, a great day for Paraguay, a great day for our friendship,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Paraguay’s former President Horacio Cartes, Photo, GPO

“This follows the example, the practice of Paraguay for many, many years. Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany. We will never forget this,” he said.

Paraguay’s move is a diplomatic blow for Israel. Israel had hoped to create momentum for countries to both recognize Jerusalem as its capital and move their embassies here.

Paraguay said it made the move because it wanted to intensify “regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East.” 

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry hailed the move as a “Palestinian diplomatic achievement.”

The move came after Paraguay swore in its new president, Mario Abdo – the grandson of a Lebanese immigrant who’s from the same political party as Cartes.

Netanyahu sent Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to the inauguration.

Barkat tweeted his reaction: “I will travel to the ends of the earth for Jerusalem and Israel, just as I visited Paraguay at the request of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Their decision was wrong and only strengthens our enemies. I will continue to fight for united Jerusalem, Israel and the truth – in every place, in every way.”

I will travel to the ends of the earth for #Jerusalem & #Israel, just as I visited #Paraguay at the request of PM @netanyahu. Their decision is wrong & only strengthens our enemies. I will continue to fight for united Jerusalem, Israel, & the truth – in every place, in every way.

Castiglioni said Israel shouldn’t be bothered by the move.

“Our brothers and friends in Israel should not be upset,” he said. “There are over 85 countries who maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv and we are friends and historic allies of Israel. 

“It should not be forgotten that Paraguay’s vote was the decisive vote for the creation of Israel [on November 29, 1947, in United Nations resolution 181],” he added.

Written by: Julie Stahl, Chris Mitchell
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