((JEWISH REVIEW)) — Paraguay’s newly-elected president, Santiago Peña, announced Wednesday that he is moving his country’s embassy back to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The move is expected to take place by the end of this year.
Peña, a conservative, had promised the relocation during his campaign earlier this year.
In response, Israel’s foreign ministry announced that it will reopen its embassy in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital.
Under a former president, Horacio Cortes, Paraguay had previously moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018. However, a subsequent leader, Mario Abdo Benítez, reversed the move shortly thereafter, returning the diplomatic headquarters to Tel Aviv. Israel shuttered its Asunción embassy soon after that, using its embassy in Uruguay for relations with both Uruguay and Paraguay.
Israeli officials have long considered Jerusalem their sole capital, but the Palestinian Authority has insisted in peace negotiations that they are granted East Jerusalem as their capital in a two-state solution. Former President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 2017 drew criticism from many allies who for decades have not officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, arguing that doing so hurts the prospects of a two-state solution.
The news was announced as Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen made the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister to South America in more than a decade.
Following his meeting in Paraguay, Cohen traveled to Uruguay, where he met with Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou and Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo. On Twitter, Cohen announced that Uruguay would open a “branch of the Uruguayan Embassy” in Jerusalem.
“Uruguay worked hard for the establishment of the State of Israel, and now we are further strengthening the warm relationship between the countries,” Cohen tweeted, referencing Uruguay’s early support for Israel in the lead-up to its formation in 1948.
Four other countries currently have their embassies in Jerusalem: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo.