In quick succession, the US, Guatemala and Paraguay have now made the controversial step of opening embassies in Jerusalem. As with the two previous inaugurations, Netanyahu wholeheartedly welcomed his counterpart ahead of today’s opening ceremony.
Cartes, who has said he is not a fan of ‘ambiguous positions’ in politics, defended his pro-Israeli position by drawing on their countries’ shared values: ‘the defence of human rights’ was the most glaring inclusion in the list, especially given the international condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza over the past few months.
The opening of Paraguayan Embassy, one of the final acts of Cartes’ presidency, which finishes in August, is a highly contested move. PLO Executive Committee Member and legislator Dr Hanan Ashrawi issued a statement yesterday strongly criticising Paraguay for ‘generating tensions and volatility through the region and beyond’. She called on Cartes to correct his decision and to condemn Israel’s ‘flagrant violations of human rights and crimes against humanity’.
It is unclear how the incoming President Mario Abdo Benítez will respond once he assumes office later this year. Benítez, the grandson of a Lebanese immigrant, has said he was not consulted before Cartes announced his resolve to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem last month.
The embassy opening will no doubt anger, among others, Paraguay’s sizeable Lebanese community, as well as the Palestinian population living there.