Paraguay moves its embassy back to Tel Aviv after only three months

Paraguay has announced they will relocate their embassy back to Tel Aviv, reversing a decision made three months ago to move their diplomatic headquarters to Jerusalem.

Paraguay Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni stated; “Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East,” after the move was announced Wednesday September 5.

Castiglioni added he hoped “the friends of Israel will not be bothered” by the reversal and expressed aspiration for “excellent ties of friendship and cooperation” with both the states of Israel and Palestine.

Israel immediately retaliated to the decision by declaring the closure of their embassy in Paraguay and recalling their ambassador. However, they stated they will not cut all ties with the South American nation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a brief statement saying; Israel views with great severity the unusual decision by Paraguay that will strain the ties between the countries.

The Palestinians, in the meantime, have announced they will immediately open an embassy in Paraguay according to Palestinian news network Wafa, with the Palestinian government hailing the decision as a ‘diplomatic victory’.

According to Wafa, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki expressed gratitude to the president and foreign minister of Paraguay for their commitment to international law.

International law bans countries from recognising Israel’s sovereignty over occupied Jerusalem or moving their embassies to the city.

Contested sites

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the major stumbling blocks in the road to peace between Israel and Palestine, with both sides regarding the contested site as their historical capital.

Paraguay was one of only three countries to move their embassy to Jerusalem in May, following in the footsteps of the United States and Guatemala.

The announcement of the US to move their embassy to Jerusalem in December 2017 reversed decades old US policy and international consensus over the contested site with diplomats warning of violent outbreaks in the region.

On the day Washington’s embassy was opened in Jerusalem on May 15, Israeli forces shot and killed 58 Palestinians during protests.

The opening coincided with the beginning of the Great March of Return in Gaza which has to date culminated in the deaths of 168 Palestinians and injured over 18,000 in the besieged enclave.

May 15 marks what Palestinians refer to as the ‘Nakba’, or Catastrophe – a reference to the forced removal of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages to clear the way for Israel’s establishment in 1948.

Source: Palestine Monitor