Paraguay opened its Israel embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, the second country to follow the United States's deeply controversial move from Tel Aviv.
Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the inauguration ceremony. The United States relocated its embassy to Jerusalem a week ago that led to a series of protests along the Gaza border, during which Israeli forces killed over 100 Palestinian protesters. It was followed by Guatemala on Wednesday.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to forging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who with broad international backing see East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel, as their capital.
Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it annexed after the 1967 occupation, as its capital.
"This is a historic day that strengthens ties between Paraguay and Israel," Cartes said at the ceremony.
"A great day for Israel. A great day for Paraguay. A great day for our friendship," Netanyahu responded. "You have not only the support of our government but the profound gratitude of the people Israel."
Hanan Ashrawi, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, denounced Paraguay's move.
"By adopting such a provocative and irresponsible measure that is in direct contravention of international law and consensus, Paraguay has conspired with Israel, the United States and Guatemala to entrench the military occupation and to seal the fate of occupied Jerusalem," Ashrawi said in a statement.
In December, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, reversing decades of U.S. policy and upsetting the Muslim world and Western allies.
Most world powers do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city and says its final status should be set in peace negotiations.
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