Paraguay’s government says President Horacio Cartes will open the country’s new embassy in Israel on Tuesday in Jerusalem, following similar steps by the United States and Guatemala.
Government spokesman Mariano Mercado says Cartes will leave for the trip on Saturday.
The decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem has been controversial in Paraguay. It comes less than two months before Mario Abdo Benitez replaces Cartes, and the president-elect has said he wasn’t consulted.
Cartes made the announcement at the end of April during an event in the capital Asuncion marking Israel’s 70th Independence day, which was attended by Israel’s Ambassador to Paraguay Ze’ev Harel and Paraguay’s President-elect Hugo Velázquez.
Paraguay will be the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, after the United States and Guatemala opened embassies in the city this week.
Last month, Cartes said that he wanted to relocate the country’s embassy to Jerusalem before the end of his presidential term in August.
In addition to the US, Guatemala and Paraguay, a number of other countries have expressed interest in moving their embassies in Israel, among them Honduras, the Czech Republic and Romania.
There are a number of reasons for the disproportionate representation of Latin American countries moving their embassies to Jerusalem at a time when most countries of the world have not.
Latin American countries — particularly Guatemala — have a long history of being sympathetic to Israel, starting with the vote on the UN Partition Plan in 1947.
Also, these countries want to maintain good ties with the US, where there are large Latin American communities.
Other reasons include the large evangelical Christian communities in some Latin American countries, which tend to be pro-Israel. In Guatemala, for instance, evangelical Christians make up about 40 percent of Guatemala’s population.
A few weeks ago, the Czech Republic said it will appoint an honorary consul in Jerusalem, the first in a three-step process to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Earlier this month, the parliament of Honduras passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the country’s embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.