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Paraguay to move embassy back to Tel Aviv, Israel closes embassy in Paraguay

By AFP - Sep 06,2018 - Last updated at Sep 06,2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) reaching out to shake hands with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes as they meet at his Jerusalem office on July 19, 2016 (AFP photo)

OCCUPATION JERUSALEM/ASUNCION — Paraguay announced on Wednesday that it is moving its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv, a little more than three months after transferring it to the occupied city of Jerusalem.

In response, Israel has ordered the closure of its embassy in Paraguay and recalled its ambassador, according to a statement by the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Paraguay's new President Mario Abdo Benitez wants "to contribute to the intensification of regional and international diplomatic efforts that aim to achieve a broad, just and durable peace in the Middle East," Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said.

The foreign ministry was asked “to close the Israeli embassy in Paraguay”, the statement said, adding that Paraguay's decision casts a shadow on relations between the two countries.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki was the one who convinced the new Paraguayan president to reverse the move.

Former Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes made the decision to move the embassy earlier this year, in May. His successor Mario Abdo Benitez, also a member of the conservative Colorado Party, took office last month.

Paraguay was the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala.

Local media in Paraguay reported that the decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem has drawn criticism in the country, and that the decision will be reevaluated under the administration of the incoming president, Mario Abdo Benitez.

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