TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes as a “true friend of Israel” as Cartes opened his country’s embassy in Jerusalem this week, becoming the third country after the U.S. and Guatemala to relocate its mission to the capital.
“I want to begin with a salute to a great friend of Israel and a great personal friend of mine, President Horacio Cartes Jara of Paraguay. Thank you, Horacio,” Netanyahu said in a ceremony in the capital’s Malha Technological Park.
“You’re an unbelievable friend, and I have to say that this represents the friendship between our countries but you gave it personal expression,” the prime minister added.
“A great day for Israel, a great day for Paraguay, a great day for our friendship. You’ve done much for your country, much for your country, and now you you’re doing something for both our countries. And this follows the example and I would say the practice of Paraguay for many, many years,” Netanyahu told Cartes.
He then proceeded to relate how Paraguay saved Jews from the Nazis.
“Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany. We will never forget this. You did this before the Holocaust, during the Holocaust and after the Holocaust. It was an act of benevolence and mercy that is forever etched in our hearts,” Netanyahu said.
“Paraguay supported the creation of the State of Israel, the recognition of the State of Israel in the United Nations. We will never forget that,” he said.
He praised Cartes for standing up to lies directed against Israel.
“Paraguay, before but especially under your leadership, took a very bold stance in international affairs and refused to cooperate with the lies directed against Israel. We always remember that. Thank you Horacio. Thank you and thank you Paraguay,” Netanyahu told Cartes.
The prime minister concluded his remarks by promising greater cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of agriculture, technology and security.
Cartes called the embassy opening a “historic event.”
“This occasion is of special significance because it expresses the sincere friendship and brave solidarity between Paraguay and Israel,” the Paraguayan leader said.
“From the depth of my heart, I appreciate this country that courageously defends its right to live in peace and it is building a praiseworthy economically prosperous state that ensures its future and that of its children,” he added.
Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi on Sunday issued a statement slamming Paraguay for the move.
“By adopting such a provocative and irresponsible measure that is in direct contravention of international law and consensus, Paraguay has conspired with Israel, the United States and Guatemala to entrench the military occupation and to seal the fate of occupied Jerusalem,” her statement read.
She called on nations around the world “to sever relations with the countries that support Israel’s unilateral annexation of occupied Jerusalem.”