Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at AIPAC
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at AIPAC Reuters

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel on Tuesday defended her country's "sovereign" decision to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"We are doing the right thing in accordance with the foreign policy that Guatemala has had toward Israel over the past 70 years," Jovel said at a press conference, according to AFP.

The move is "a sovereign decision of Guatemalan foreign policy," she stressed.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales told the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on Sunday that Guatemala's mission would be moved "two days after the United States moves its embassy" to Jerusalem.

The White House plans to open its new facility in Jerusalem on May 14, coinciding with Israel’s 70th Independence Day. Guatemala's embassy would therefore move on May 16.

On December 24, days after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Guatemala became the first country to follow suit and announce it would be moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Jovel said on Tuesday that she "respects the opinion" of countries opposing Guatemala's decision.

On Saturday, Guatemala's Constitutional Court rejected a local lawyer's attempt to prevent the government from moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

A court spokesman said the high court's five magistrates turned down a request from lawyer Marco Vinicio Mejia, who argued in a petition filed in January that the embassy move was contrary to international law.