Guatemala asserted that such a move was aimed at creating "new momentum in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," while in no way altering the country's "long tradition of friendship and cooperation with the State of Israel."
"We were surprised by the announcement, all the more so as we hosted the Foreign Minister of Guatemala in our offices at the beginning of this week and he never hinted at such a possibility," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
"As we told the minister, we are fully cognizant and everlastingly grateful for Guatemala's key role in the establishment of Israel and its strong record of bilateral relations with Jerusalem," Harris added. "At the same time, this latest step will most assuredly not generate 'new momentum' in the peace process. To the contrary, it signals to the Palestinians that recognition of statehood can come from avoiding the negotiating table with Israel, and instead doing a diplomatic end-run in various capitals. How sad that Guatemala succumbed to such flawed logic rather than stand on the solid moral foundation of encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, from which they have been missing-in-action for years, and hammering out an agreement with the one nation that really counts in the process - Israel."
AJC has long maintained relations with Guatemala through the AJC Latino and Latin America Institute, directed by Dina Siegel Vann. The last visit to Guatemala City was in 2012, when an AJC delegation met with the President and previous Foreign Minister. AJC also has an association agreement with the Jewish Community of Guatemala, one of 31 such agreements with Jewish communities worldwide.