Paraguay returns its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv

Paraguay's Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said at a news conference that he hoped "the friends of Israel will not be bothered" by his nation's reversal and expressed hope for "excellent ties of friendship and cooperation" with both "the states of Israel and Palestine".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes during their meeting on May 21 at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. Cartes was replaced by Mario Abdo, also a member of the conservative Colorado party, last month.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry hailed the move as a "Palestinian diplomatic achievement".

Palestinian authorities reacted by deciding to "immediately" open an embassy in Paraguay's capital Asuncion, Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki said, according to the official news agency Wafa.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas celebrated as "courageous" the reversal, which will be a setback to the momentum Israel had hoped to build after the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds in May as part of President Donald Trump's so-called Middle East peace efforts.

The Trump administration's decision to move the embassy flew in the face of that worldwide consensus and it followed its recognition months earlier of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, another step the Palestinians fiercely opposed.

"It can not be a coincidence that as Paraguay announces this decision, the Palestinian Authority celebrates and declares it will open an "embassy" in Asunción". Guatemala and then Paraguay opened embassies there afterward.

"There are more than 85 countries that have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv and we're historic allies of Israel".

Palestinian leaders see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and said Trump's move disqualifies Washington as a peace mediator.

Paraguay's decision was a blow to Israel's efforts to achieve external recognition of Jerusalem as its capital, which appeared to have gained some traction this year with the United States, Guatemala and Paraguay opening embassies there.

Announcing the move, his government said it considered the return to Tel Aviv "appropriate", but Netanyahu's office replied that the decision had cast a shadow on relations between the two countries. "Only respecting global law and United Nations resolutions will help to achieve a just and lasting peace".

The South American country announced in May that it would follow Donald Trump's lead by relocating the mission to the holy city, all of which Israel claims as its capital even as Palestinians and most world powers argue its status remains under dispute. In retaliation, Netanyahu recalled the Israeli ambassador from Paraguay.

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