Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, on a visit to the United States, received thanks from several quarters for his support of the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
President Donald Trump thanked Morales on Thursday during a meeting at a hotel in Washington before the annual National Prayer Breakfast, the Associated Press reported.
Guatemala was one of nine countries that voted with the United States against a United Nations General Assembly resolution in December rejecting any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Morales announced in December in a Facebook post that he would move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, saying he made the decision following a conversation with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Guatemala's foreign minister, Sandra Jovel, later 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.
On Friday night, Morales attended a Shabbat meal in Manhattan hosted by Chabad’s Jewish Latin Center. The president was honored during the meal, attended by about 200 people, for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prior to the dinner, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dani Dayan, tweeted: “As the son of a former Ambassador of Israel to Guatemala and as Israel’s Consul General in New York I will be honored to participate and thank President Jimmy Morales.”
Late last month, B'nai Brith honored Morales with the Human Rights Award his decision to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem and for his unwavering support of Israel.
Morales's announcement was also met with some criticism in the Arab world. The Palestinian Authority said Guatemala’s announcement was “a shameful and illegal act that goes totally against the wishes of church leaders in Jerusalem.”
Jordan’s State Minister for Media Affairs, Mohammad Al-Momani, said the decision is “a flagrant violation of international law.