Guatemalan lawyer challenges embassy move to Jerusalem

Guatemalan lawyer says his country's decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem violates international law.

Elad Benari ,

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales

A Guatemalan lawyer is challenging his country's decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, arguing it violates international law, AFP reports.

The lawyer, Marco Vinicio Mejia, lodged the complaint with the Constitutional Court on Monday, saying the December 24 announcement of the embassy move went against the principles, rules and practices of international law with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace process.

Such a change of policy should have been put to a referendum, he argued.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced in a Facebook post on December 24 that he was ordering his country's embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following a conversation with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

His moved followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Morales’s declaration made Guatemala the first country to follow Trump's footsteps on Jerusalem.

Mejia argued that Morales flouted government standards by making the announcement on his Facebook page rather than leaving it to the foreign ministry to make the announcement through official channels.

Morales, in his Facebook announcement, defended the decision to move the embassy by saying Israel is an "ally" and that Guatemala has "historically been pro-Israel."

Guatemala's foreign minister, Sandra Jovel, said the decision to follow the United States in moving the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was a "sovereign" matter that should not affect ties with other countries.

She also denied that her country bowed to U.S. pressure in making its decision while also stressing that the date of the embassy move had not yet been defined.

The Palestinian Authority said Guatemala’s announcement was “a shameful and illegal act that goes totally against the wishes of church leaders in Jerusalem.”

"The state of Palestine considers this as a flagrant act of hostility against the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and international law," it added.

Jordan’s State Minister for Media Affairs, Mohammad Al-Momani, said the decision is “a flagrant violation of international law.

The Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, described the Guatemalan move as an “absurd provocation”.