Palestinian govt slams Guatemala embassy move to J'lem

Jimmy Morales

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands as they deliver statements to the media during their meeting in Jerusalem November 29, 2016.

Earlier Monday, Morales announced his intention to relocate Guatemala's Israel embassy to Jerusalem sometime in May.

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

Both the Palestinians and Israel see Jerusalem as their capital and the US decision to move its Israel Embassy there prompted the Palestinians to say the White House could no longer be the primary mediator between the two sides.

The White House plans to open its new facility in Jerusalem on May 14, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation.

The announcement of the timing of the move comes after Guatemala's Constitutional Court rejected a local lawyer's attempt to prevent the government from moving its embassy over the weekend.

The decision in December by President Trump to transfer the USA embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem has drawn widespread condemnation, with critics saying it damages hopes for a negotiated Middle East peace.

Morales quickly followed Trump, making Guatemala the first country to do so.

During a meeting in January, the PLO Central Council chose to suspend the Oslo accords with Israel, while assigning the PLO Executive Committee to revoke the recognition of Israel until it recognizes the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and reverses the decision to annex East Jerusalem.

On Feb. 20, Palestinian President Abbas presented a peace initiative in a speech before the UN Security Council, proposing to hold an worldwide peace conference in mid-2018 to jumpstart the final status talks based on the two-state solution and other UN resolutions.

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

Court spokesman Santiago Palomo told AFP that 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 worldwide law.

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