Jerusalem Old City walls illuminated with Guatemalan flags

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Guatemala became the second country to open its embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post reported.

U.S. president Donald Trump announced his decision in December to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the American embassy there, triggering a joyous reaction from Mr Netanyahu's government. While Israel believes the city is its capital, Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The Guatemalan Congress recently passed a law marking May 14 as "Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day".

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales also said in December that the country would move its embassy back to Jerusalem. "Three friends that share friendship and loyalty". Israel considers Jerusalem its undivided capital, but almost all countries have opted to maintain embassies in Tel Aviv because of the holy city's contested status.

Netanyahu said that he plans to visit Latin America by the end of this year and that he will stop in Guatemala.

"The Guatemalan government has positioned itself alongside Israel and its war crimes, defying global law and supporting the military occupation and the illegal annexation of Jerusalem by relocating its embassy to occupied Jerusalem", she said, according to the official Wafa news agency. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized.

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"This is a sovereign decision and as a sovereign decision, we recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel".

The White House declined to join in urging Israel to exercise caution and pinned the blame squarely on Gaza's ruling Hamas group, backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who described the Israeli military's actions as self-defense of his country's borders.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials joined an American delegation of Trump administration officials and Republican and evangelical Christian supporters.

The new embassy will temporarily operate from an upgraded, existing US consulate building, until a decision is made on a permanent location. Leaders in the European Union and the United Nations urged Israel to refrain from using deadly force. At least 60 Palestinians have been killed protesting in Gaza.

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