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Paraguay president inaugurates Jerusalem embassy week after Gaza massacre

Paraguay is the third nation to move its embassy to Jerusalem [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 May, 2018

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Despite the international outrage over Israel's murder of scores of Palestinians, Paraguay has followed the US in opening an embassy in Jerusalem.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes inaugurated his country's Israel embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, making it the third nation to make the deeply controversial move after the United States and Guatemala.

The move comes despite the Israel's massacre of Palestinians in Gaza who protested against the US embassy's opening last week - a bloody day that drew international outrage.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new embassy in a Jerusalem office park, the Paraguayan leader called it an "historic event".

"This act has profound significance in the sense that it expresses Paraguay's sincere friendship and full solidarity with Israel," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said cooperation between the two countries would become "greater," naming areas such as agriculture, security and technology.

The South American nation follows in the footsteps of the United States, which broke with decades of international consensus when President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem Israel's capital in December.

The new US embassy opened in the contested city on 14 May, at a ceremony attended by US dignitaries, as Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinians who protested near the Gaza border.

Israel has sought to persuade other countries to follow the White House move, but so far only Paraguay and Guatemala have done so.

Guatemala opened its new embassy in the same Jerusalem office park as Paraguay's on 16 May.

Jerusalem's status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

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