PA official in charge of foreign affairs, Riyad al-Maliki
PA official in charge of foreign affairs, Riyad al-MalikiReuters

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday welcomed Paraguay’s decision to relocate its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.

The PA official in charge of foreign affairs, Minister Riyad al-Maliki, announced that the PA had decided to "immediately" open an embassy in Paraguay's capital Asuncion.

Maliki expressed gratitude to the president and foreign minister of Paraguay for their commitment to international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions, particularly a resolution from 1980 that bans countries from recognizing Israel's sovereignty over “occupied Jerusalem” or moving their embassies to the city, reported the Wafa news agency.

He also urged other countries to open embassies in Paraguay in a show of solidarity with that country.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ office welcomed Paraguay’s decision as well and described it as courageous.

"This decision was in line with international resolutions and was the result of the wise and vigorous Palestinian diplomatic efforts to explain the dangers of the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem on the peace process in the Middle East and the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," said a statement from Abbas’ bureau quoted by Wafa.

It stressed as well that "this courageous move by the Paraguayan government is an example for all countries in facing Israeli greed and attempts by the American administration to impose it on the world when it moved its embassy to Jerusalem in the so-called deal of the century."

The presidency praised all the countries that rejected the US move and considered it a threat to the entire peace process in the region.

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni announced the decision to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv earlier on Wednesday, explaining that "Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East."

In response to the announcement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to return the Israeli ambassador to Paraguay back to Israel for consultations, and to close the Israeli embassy in Paraguay.

“Israel views with great severity the unusual decision of Paraguay which will cloud relations between the countries,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The Paraguayan embassy was relocated to Jerusalem in May. With the move, Paraguay followed in the footsteps of the US and Guatemala, which unveiled its new Jerusalem embassy on May 16, two days after the US relocated its embassy to Jerusalem.