Why Guatemala Was the First to Join the U.S. in Recognizing Jerusalem

Dec. 27 2017

On Sunday, Guatemala announced its intention to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem—making it the first country to follow America’s lead in doing so. Honduras, Togo, Paraguay, Romania, and Slovakia are reportedly considering doing the same. Rafael Ahren explains that the decision comes on the heels of a long history of Israeli-Guatemalan friendship:

Seventy years ago, Guatemala’s ambassador to the UN, Jorge Garcia Granados, a member of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, played a crucial role in convincing Latin American countries to vote in favor of General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Guatemala was [also] one of the first countries to recognize the nascent state of Israel [after it declared its independence in 1948]. . . .

In the 1970s, Israel was said to have assisted the military juntas ruling Guatemala a great deal in the area of counterinsurgency, providing them with advice and equipment. . . . Ties [have] also been strong in the fields of civilian technology and tourism, among others. . . . In December 2013, Otto Fernando Perez Molina became the first president of Guatemala to visit Israel. . . .

Fast forward to 2015, when [Guatemala’s President Jimmy] Morales—a former comedian who’d never held political office—won the country’s presidential elections with 67 percent of the votes. Morales, a devout evangelical Christian, has . . . called his country’s relationship with Israel “excellent.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Jerusalem, Latin America

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat