JERUSALEM — Israel on Wednesday welcomed another embassy in Jerusalem just two days following the landmark move by the USA, even as the diplomatic fallout over Gaza bloodshed intensified with Israel and Turkey trading bitter recriminations.
The ribbon-cutting by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales made his country the first to join with the USA in making the transfer to Jerusalem and officially recognizing the contested city as Israel’s capital.
Comparable to the U.S. Embassy inauguration, the Guatemalan occasion attracted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and prominent foreign supporters of Israel, including GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and a smattering of evangelical leaders.
Although the Guatemalan affair was low-key by comparison — its new office was barely large enough to host most of the guests — the movement caused it to yet another layer of tension amid diplomatic confrontations with a growing set of nations.
Israel retaliated with its expulsions of high Turkish diplomats.
On Wednesday, the crisis between the two nations appeared to be deepening. Israel’s departing ambassador, Eitan Na’eh, received an uncustomary look at Istanbul airport at a clear attempt at public humiliation, such as being forced to take off his shoes. Members of the Turkish press were encouraged to witness the event.
“That is an inappropriate remedy of Israeli Ambassador Eitan Na’eh,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded in a statement. It summoned the Turkish diplomat hours afterwards and encouraged journalists.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Netanyahu had already traded insults on Twitter following Monday’s chaos along Gaza’s border fence with Israel, which has blockaded the coastal enclave, combined with Egypt, for more than a decade.
Israeli troops ended up killing some 60 people and wounding tens of thousands throughout the protests along the Israel-Gaza border. Israel and the United States have claimed the protests are engineered by Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip. Palestinians, who have dubbed the protests that the “Great March of recurrence,” say they wish to come back to lands shot when Israel was created 70 decades back.
Israel has said that a substantial number of those killed were members of various militant Islamist factions in the Gaza Strip, with the mass demonstrations as cover to infiltrate into Israel and execute possible terrorist attacks.
The way the milestone for Trump coincided with Gaza’s bloodiest day in years
Thousands of Palestinians started protesting May 14, the same day the Trump administration hailed the motion of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. (Joyce Lee/The Washington Post)
In Europe, many E.U. nations summoned Israeli ambassadors to express concern over what many view as excessive force by Israeli troops against unarmed Palestinian civilians.
“Lethal force may only be used as a measure of last, not first, resort, and just if there’s an immediate danger to life or serious injury,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, in a statement.
On Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the killings in Gaza “a massacre” and blamed both Israel and the United States. On Tuesday, he remembered Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador in Washington.
More movements came Wednesday with the Palestinian Authority calling back ambassadors in Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria — all E.U. members that have expressed an interest in opening embassies in Jerusalem.
Palestinians were furious that the ambassadors of these countries attended an event Sunday arranged by Israel’s Foreign Ministry to honor the U.S. move to Jerusalem. Palestinians hope to obtain part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future nation.
“Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem wasn’t only a hostile action against the people of Palestine as we mourn 70 years of ‘nakba,’ but is as well a violation of international law,” said Amal Jadou, deputy minister for European affairs in the Palestinian foreign ministry. Nakba, Arabic for disaster, is a phrase used for the flight and expulsion of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians upon Israel’s creation.
None of the diplomatic fallout seemed to dampen the parties Wednesday in the new Guatemalan Embassy, however.
Speaking at the event, that did not have open media coverage, Netanyahu said it was not a coincidence Guatemala was the next country to open its embassy in Jerusalem, following the United States.
“It is not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its own embassy in Jerusalem right one of the first. You are always among the very first, always among the first,” he explained, referring to Guatemala’s role in lobbying for Israel’s establishment in the 1940s.
Guatemalan lawmaker Marcos Fernando Yax said most people in his nation believed this was the ideal thing to do. In Guatemala, a significant amount of individuals are Catholic or evangelical. “They support this move by Morales,” he explained.
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, he added, was a different, internal issue