By Abdel Raouf Arnaout
Paraguay officially relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday, becoming the third country to do so after the U.S. and Guatemala.
An inauguration ceremony was attended by Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a speech delivered at the ceremony, Netanyahu said: “This is a big day for Israel and Jerusalem.”
“Paraguay supported the recognition of Israel at the UN [in 1949] and we have not forgotten that,” he added.
“It has also stood with Israel in various international institutions,” Netanyahu said.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, condemned the move by Paraguay.
“This irresponsible action is a stark and deliberate violation of international law and internationally legitimate [i.e., UN] resolutions," Ashrawi said in a statement.
Urging Paraguay to reverse the decision, she called on member-states of the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement to sever relations with those countries that support the Israeli occupation.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry likewise condemned the move by Paraguay, describing it as a “violation of international law”.
The U.S. officially relocated its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week. Two days later, Guatemala followed suit.
The moves drew condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world, especially in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.