In Brief

Paraguay moving new Jerusalem embassy back to Tel Aviv

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu responds by ordering closure of his own nation’s embassy in Paraguay

Israelis have reacted with fury to a decision by Paraguay’s new government to relocate the South American nation’s embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv, less than four months after moving it to Jerusalem.

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni announced yesterday that his government, which took power last month, had decided to reverse the previous administration’s controversial decision.

The row began in December, when Donald Trump announced that the US would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, signalling that his administration recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - a highly contentious issue in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The decision by Paraguay’s then president Horacio Cartes to follow suit made his country “only the third country to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem, opening the mission on 21 May”, Fox News reports.

At a press conference announcing the planned reversal of Cartes’ policy, Castiglioni said: “Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

In response, Israel has said that it will close its own embassy in Paraguayan capital Asuncion and recall its ambassador, The Guardian reports. 

A statement by the Israeli government warned that Paraguay’s decision “will strain the ties between the countries”, and that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his regime viewed the “unusual decision” with “great severity”.

However, the decision was praised by the Palestinian Authority (PA) as “courageous”, during a press conference hours later.

The PA’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, said that a Palestinian embassy would be opened in Asuncion “immediately”. Paraguay has set an “example for all countries in facing Israeli greed and attempts by the American administration to impose it on the world when it moved its embassy to Jerusalem in the so-called deal of the century”, he added.

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