Paraguay moves embassy back to Tel Aviv | News | DW | 06.09.2018
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Paraguay moves embassy back to Tel Aviv

Paraguay was one of just three countries to move their embassy to Jerusalem, but they have now issued a dramatic reversal. In response, Israel has shuttered its embassy in Paraguay.

Paraguay will move its Israeli embassy out of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, it announced on Wednesday.

The South American country was one of just handful of countries to locate their embassy in the contested city this year.

Read more: US embassy in Jerusalem opens, further fracturing a 'fragile city'

Hasty turnaround

  • Paraguay's Foreign Ministry announced the move less than four months after moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
  • Israel immediately responded by announcing it was shutting down its embassy in Paraguay but added it was not cutting all ties with the South American nation.
  • Palestinian authorities said they would immediately open an embassy in Paraguay in response.

'Lasting peace'

Paraguay Foreign Minister Luis Alberto 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."

He said he hoped "the friends of Israel will not be bothered" by the reversal and expressed hope for "excellent ties of friendship and cooperation" with both "the states of Israel and Palestine."

Palestinian authorities claimed the move as a diplomatic victory, saying "(Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki) exerted a big effort during his meeting with the new president who instructed his foreign minister to arrange the issue."

An English-language statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said: "Israel views very seriously Paraguay's exceptional decision which will strain the relations between the countries."

Read more: 'Deal of the century': US pushes Israeli-Palestinian plan

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Who does Jerusalem belong to?

Major setback: The decision will be a setback to the momentum Israel had hoped to build after the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May, followed by Paraguay and Guatemala. 

Why the reversal? The original decision to move the embassy was taken by then-President Horacio Cartes, despite then-president-elect Mario Abdo preparing to take the presidency. Abdo said the decision was not backed by any legitimate arguments.

Why it's controversial: Most countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the whole city, which it annexed after 1967 war. Palestine maintains the city is part of their country. Most countries choose not to locate their embassies in the city so as to not prejudge the outcomes of any peace negotiations.

aw/lr (Reuters, AFP)

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