Paraguay President Horacio Cartes is joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he inaugurates Paraguay’s new embassy in Jerusalem (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes officially unveiled his country’s new embassy to Israel in front of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, making it the second country to follow the United States in formally recognizing Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel.

“It is an honor for me to be here today,” said Paraguayan President Cartes at the opening ceremony. “This act has profound significance in the sense that it expresses Paraguay’s sincere friendship and full solidarity with Israel”.

“I don’t like binding or ambiguous positions”, continued Cartes. “Our friendship is based on shared values, such as democracy, tolerance and dignity, lack of discrimination and peaceful coexistence.”

 

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the move and spoke at the opening ceremony to praise the move. He spoke of his hopes for the future relationship between Israel and Paraguay, and declared there would be “greater” cooperation between Israel and Paraguay in years to come.

Earlier Monday, the Paraguayan president met with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin.

“Paraguay is thousands of kilometers away from Israel, but our hearts are close,” Rivlin said. “For over 70 years, Paraguay has been a true friend of Israel, and indeed we mark 70 years to Israel and to the establishment of diplomatic ties between us.”

The move comes after the United States transferred its embassy in Israel to the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem last week. Two days after the United States confirmed its new embassy, the South American state of Guatemala opened its own temporary embassy in a south Jerusalem office block, pending a move to a permanent home in the city.

President Cartes arrived in Israel late Sunday evening ahead of the embassy unveiling, and met with Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).

“I thanked the president [Cartes] for his decision [to move the embassy], which highlights the deep ties between our two countries, and his brave leadership,” tweeted Erdan. “Another leader of a state which chose the truth and to strengthen our sovereignty over our capital. Thanks!”

The next country to following Guatemala, Paraguay and the United States in moving their embassy to Jerusalem is likely to be Honduras, with the state is expected to follow suit and announce its embassy move in the coming weeks.