Netanyahu orders closure of Israel's Paraguay embassy

Netanyahu orders closure of Israel's Paraguay embassy
Paraguay said on Wednesday it was moving its embassy back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, prompting Netanyahu to order the closure of Israel's mission in the South American country.
2 min read
05 September, 2018
Netanyahu has ordered the closure of Israel's embassy in Paraguay. [Getty]
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered the closure of Israel's embassy in Paraguay, his office said, after the South American country announced Wednesday it was moving its mission back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.

"Israel views with utmost gravity the extraordinary decision by Paraguay, which will cloud bilateral relations," Netanyahu's office retorted on Twitter.

Paraguay, though, pointed to a long history of positive relations with Israel.

"I don't think this should annoy our Israeli brothers and friends," said Paraguay's Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni.

"There are more than 85 countries that have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv and we're historic allies of Israel.

"Don't forget that Paraguay's vote was the decisive vote in the creation of Israel."

Paraguay's announcement that it was moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv came little more than three months after it had transferred it to Jerusalem following a similar move by Washington.

US President Donald Trump's deeply controversial move to recognise the disputed city as capital of Israel sparked outrage among Palestinians who see Jerusalem's east as the capital of their future state.

The new US embassy opened in the contested city on 14 May, at a ceremony attended by US dignitaries, as Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinians who protested near the Gaza border.

East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law.

Palestinian authorities reacted by deciding to "immediately" open an embassy in Paraguay's capital Asuncion, Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki said, according to the official news agency Wafa.

In May, then-president of Paraguay Horacio Cartes met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem after his country and Guatamala opened their embassies there.

His successor President Mario Abdo Benitez, who took office in August, decided to move it back "to contribute to the intensification of regional and international diplomatic efforts that aim to achieve a broad, just and durable peace in the Middle East."

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