(JTA) — The head of the Knesset thanked Guatemala for its critical role in helping establish the State of Israel as the Central American nation’s president wrapped up a four-day visit there.
President Jimmy Morales ended his visit to Israel on the day 69 years ago that the United Nations voted in favor of the Partition Plan for Palestine at the end of the British Mandate recommending a Jewish and an Arab state.
Knesset President Yuli Edelstein said the ties between Israel and Guatemala “are deep and historic.”
“Before Israel’s establishment, on the eve of the U.N. decision on November 29 [in 1947], we still remember and appreciate the actions of Guatemala’s ambassador to the U.N., Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados, who enlisted Latin American states to vote in favor of the partition plan,” Edelstein said Tuesday.
“It could be that without Guatemala, the resolution on that fateful day would not have passed, and history would be very different.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Morales on Tuesday, when they signed a series of bilateral agreements to seek cooperation in several sectors including agriculture, science, technology and security.
Noting it was Morales’ first visit outside of the Americas, Netanyahu wrote in his official Twitter account it was “a movement that reflects the true friendship between our countries.”
A day earlier, Morales met with President Reuven Rivlin, who praised the Guatemalan leader for continuing the legacy of friendship of his predecessors, and also for his country’s support in international forums. Rivlin also noted that there is hardly a town in Israel that does not have a Guatemala Street.
Morales also was given an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“Since entering office in January, President Morales has led the struggle against government corruption in his country,” the university’s online note read. “He has also significantly strengthened relations between Israel and Guatemala.”
Shortly after his election in October 2015, Morales visited the synagogue in Guatemala City, met with members of the Jewish community and declared his desire to visit Israel. His tenure has seen a significant improvement in relations with Israel, including Guatemala’s positions at international meetings.
Guatemala is home to about 1,000 Jews out of a population of 15 million.