RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is on a seven-day official visit to Guatemala focusing on social issues and development.
Israel’s ambassador to the Central American nation, Mattanya Cohen, called the visit “historic” as Sara Netanyahu’s first diplomatic trip without the prime minister. Cohen also said that 2018 “has been the best year of diplomatic relations for the two countries,” the Guatemalan official news agency AGN reported.
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled that she was allowed to accompany the delegation to the Central American country despite having gone on trial in October for fraud. Funding for accommodations and transport in Guatemala is by the Guatemalan government, with other costs to be covered by Israel.
Patricia Morales, the wife of President Jimmy Morales, invited Sara Netanyahu to participate in the laying of the foundation stone of a new neighborhood in the village of Jerusalem, which was built to host the displaced victims of the Fuego volcano eruption last June, when Israel sent humanitarian aid.
“I am very moved to leave tonight on a very important mission to Guatemala, at the invitation of my friend, the wife of the Guatemalan president, and together with our delegation, I hope to represent Israel with honor,” Sara Netanyahu said in a Hebrew clip posted in the prime minister’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Several Guatemalan officials attended a ceremony Wednesday at the National Palace of Culture in which Sara Netanyahu was named a “peace ambassador.”
Her agenda also includes a formal event about potable water, a meeting with alumni of the Israel Agency for International Development Cooperation — known as Mashav — and another with members of the local 1,200-strong Jewish community, the Guatemalan news portal Prensa Livre reported.
Guatemala and Israel have close ties, especially since President Morales followed in the footsteps of the United States and moved the country’s embassy to Jerusalem.