Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in Jerusalem, November 29, 2016.

Let’s open by interjecting a bit of reality into a bizarre effort on the part of the folks in Ramallah to suggest Guatemala’s citizenry is up in arms against their president’s announcement that he, too, plans to move their country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On Tuesday, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel told a press conference that her government had no intention to change its embassy decision.

“What we are doing is being coherent with our foreign policy and the ally we have been for Israel,” Jovel said – her country being one of the nine who voted against the UN General Assembly resolution that condemned President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


On to the PA’s news agency, WAFA, which on Wednesday issued a story headlined: “Guatemalans not happy with decision to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.”

“Guatemalans reacted with anger and concern over their president’s decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel,” went the story. It suggested that “several major media outlets in Guatemala (not mentioning any specific outlt by name) have begun to focus on the angry reactions to the decision of President Jimmy Morales to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

WAFA then offered the following “proof” of popular anger by Guatemalans who love Tel Aviv but hate Jerusalem: “The [Palestinian Authority’s] Department of Expatriates Affairs said it heard from members of the Palestinian community in Guatemala and other organizations that following the decision by Morales concern was expressed among political, economic and media circles regarding the consequences of such a move on the county’s economy.”

So, the source for the story about Guatemalans who are angry at their president over Jerusalem are a couple of Arab immigrants who called up a friend in the Muqata.

WAFA noted that Guatemala, the main exporter of coffee to Arab and Islamic countries, at better than $300 million a year, would suffer from a backlash, just like it did in the mid 1990s, when then President Ramiro Carpio had a similar plan but was rebuffed by his country’s Arab customers.

But Foreign Minister Jovel told the news conference that, so far, she had received no calls “from any ambassador in relation to this issue.” Possibly because the Middle East has changed in the last 20 years, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are not going to go without coffee over a US president’s slight of Mahmoud Abbas.

There are other reasons why Guatemala is placing itself so clearly in the pro-US, pro-Israel camp: it has a tight security relationship with Israel; and it receives, together with Honduras and El Salvador, close to a billion dollars a year from the US, in a campaign to fight poverty and crime.

Indded, according to WAFA, the same Department of Expatriates has “called upon the Arab League to seriously consider imposing an economic boycott on any country that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel or move its embassy to it.” So far there have been no takers.