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10 more countries could recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital – Israeli deputy FM

10 more countries could recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital – Israeli deputy FM
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has told a radio station that 10 more countries are considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital following earlier declarations by Guatemala and the US.

Speaking to Kan Bet public radio, Hotovely said the 10 states are following the lead of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who declared on Sunday that his country’s embassy would be moved to Jerusalem. The Central American nation and six other states voted with the US and Israel, in contrast to the rest of the UN General Assembly which last week voted 128-9 to condemn the US decision to recognize Jerusalem. The other six were Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

Hotovely did not name any of the 10 countries, but said many had a strong Christian tradition. Philippines, the Czech Republic and Romania abstained from the UNGA vote last week, but have entertained the possibility of joining Guatemala and the United States, with Czech President Milos Zeman supporting the move to Jerusalem. But European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini later said the Czech foreign minister had promised not to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem, which the EU considers the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu thanked Morales in a speech to the Israeli parliament. “I spoke yesterday with my friend the Guatemalan president, and thanked him for his support of us through his vote in the UN,” he said in the Knesset. “I expressed my hope that he will follow President Trump’s footsteps and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and will begin the process of moving the embassy there. That night he released an announcement that he would in fact do so. So I want to say, from here, to the president of Guatemala: May God bless you, my friend, and may God bless our countries.”

Others took a diametrically opposed view. Guatemala’s decision was criticized by Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi as "an absurd provocation [and] violation of international law." Despite repeated warnings by global and regional powers, including Russia, US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel on December 6 and announced his country’s embassy would be moving there from Tel Aviv, triggering widespread condemnation.

Following the announcement, massive anti-Israeli and anti-American protests erupted across the Muslim world. The most intense clashes have been in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, as Palestinians rallied against the decision and Hamas urged a new uprising, or intifada. More than 10 people have been killed and hundreds injured as Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to suppress the protests.

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