Israel on Wednesday welcomed another embassy in Jerusalem just two days after the landmark move by the United States.
The ribbon cutting by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales marked the first nation to join the United States in making the move to Jerusalem and formally recognising the city as Israel’s capital.
Similar to the U.S. Embassy inauguration, the Guatemalan event brought Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and prominent international supporters of Israel, including GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and a smattering of evangelical leaders.
Although the Guatemalan affair was more low-key by comparison — its new office barely big enough to host all the guests — the move brought with it another layer of tension amid diplomatic confrontations with a growing list of countries.
Leading the charge was Turkey, which on Tuesday expelled Israel’s ambassador and consul. Israel retaliated with its own expulsions of top Turkish diplomats.
On Wednesday, the crisis between the two states appeared to be deepening. Israel’s departing ambassador, Eitan Na’eh, received an uncustomary search at Istanbul airport in an apparent attempt at public humiliation, including being forced to take off his shoes. Members of the Turkish media were invited to witness the event.
“This is an inappropriate treatment of Israeli Ambassador Eitan Na’eh,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded in a statement. It summoned the Turkish diplomat hours later. And invited journalists.
More moves came on Wednesday with the Palestinian Authority calling back ambassadors in Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria — all E.U. members that have expressed an interest in opening embassies in Jerusalem.
Palestinians were furious the ambassadors of those countries attended an event on Sunday organised by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to honour the U.S. move to Jerusalem. Palestinians hope to gain part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
None of the diplomatic fallout appeared to dampen the celebrations Wednesday at the new Guatemalan embassy, however.
Speaking at the event, which did not have open media coverage, Netanyahu said it was not a coincidence Guatemala was the second country to open its embassy in Jerusalem, after the United States.
“It’s not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem right among the first. You are always among the first, always among the first,” he said, referring to Guatemala’s role in lobbying for Israel’s establishment in the 1940s.