Guatemala to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley (C), waves upon arriving at the Culture Palace in Guatemala City for a meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales on February 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 05 March 2018

Guatemala to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May

WASHINGTON: Guatemala will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in May, two days after the US embassy makes the same move, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on Sunday at a conference in Washington.
“I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way. His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right,” Morales said in a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, according to a translation of his remarks on the pro-Israel US lobbying group’s website.
Guatemala was one of only a handful of countries that backed US President Donald Trump’s December decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump’s move reversed decades of US policy, upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.
Afterward, 128 countries defied Trump by backing a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to forging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as their capital.
The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.
The United States is an important source of assistance to Guatemala, and Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that supported the UN resolution.
Prior to 1980, Guatemala and a dozen other countries maintained an embassy in Jerusalem. Israel’s passage in June 1980 of a law proclaiming Jerusalem its “indivisible and eternal capital” led to a UN Security Council resolution calling on Guatemala and several other countries to move their embassies to Tel Aviv, prompting their transfer.
Morales said his decision to return the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem “strongly evidences Guatemala’s continued support and solidarity with the people of Israel.”
Morales, a former television comedian with an important base of conservative Christian support in the Central American country, became embroiled earlier this year in a dispute with the United Nations when a UN-backed anti-corruption body in Guatemala tried to impeach him.
Although Morales avoided impeachment, he failed in an attempt to expel the head of the body, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, after criticism from the United Nations, the United States and the European Union. 


Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

Updated 28 May 2020

Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP is working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties

ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking at ways to change electoral laws in order to block challenges to power from two new breakaway political parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its nationalist coalition partner the MHP are working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties — a move that has fueled rumors of an imminent snap election in the country.

Under Turkish election rules, political parties must settle their organization procedures in at least half of the nation’s cities and hold their first convention six months ahead of an election date.

Any political party with 20 lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament is entitled to take part in elections and be eligible for financial aid from the treasury for the electoral process.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has hinted at the possibility of transferring some CHP lawmakers to the newly founded parties to secure their participation in elections.

Turkey’s ex-premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the country’s former economy czar, Ali Babacan, both longtime allies of Erdogan, recently left the AKP to establish their own opposition groups, and have come under pressure from the AKP and MHP to leave their parties out of the race.

Babacan has been critical of Erdogan’s move away from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to one providing the president with wide-ranging powers without any strong checks and balances.

“The AKP is abolishing what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people has declined in the ruling party. Decisions are being taken without consultations and inside a family,” Babacan said in a recent interview.

He also claimed that AKP officials were competing against each other for personal financial gain.

Babacan, a founding member of the AKP, was highly respected among foreign investors during his time running the economy. He resigned from the party last year over “deep differences” to set up his DEVA grouping on March 9 with a diverse team of former AKP officials and liberal figures.

Berk Esen, a political analyst from Ankara’s Bilkent University, believes Babacan’s recent statements have angered Erdogan.

“As a technocrat, Babacan gains respect from secular circles as well as the international community, which Erdogan clearly lacks. Despite being in office for 13 years, Babacan has not been tainted by corruption allegations and is known as the chief architect of Turkey’s rapid economic growth during the AKP’s first two terms,” he told Arab News.

“The legislation that the AKP-MHP coalition is working on may prevent deputy transfer only in case early elections are scheduled for the fall. Otherwise, the newly established parties will most likely build their organizations across the country and become viable for elections by summer, if not the spring of 2021.”

If Davutoglu and Babacan were successful in capturing disillusioned voters, they could prevent the ruling coalition getting the 51 percent of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority.