Guatemala President Reaffirms Commitment to Israel in Meeting with AJC Leaders

Guatemala President Reaffirms Commitment to Israel in Meeting with AJC Leaders

April 30, 2013 – Guatemala City – An AJC delegation has concluded a diplomatic mission to Guatemala.

The AJC visit follows Guatemala´s recognition this month of an independent Palestinian state. Guatemala, a member of the UN Security Council, had been among a minority of UN member states that refused to upgrade the Palestinian status at the world body last November. Guatemala abstained in that vote.

President Otto Pérez Molina met with the AJC delegation, joined by leaders of Guatemala's Jewish community, at the Presidential Palace. It was the president’s second meeting with AJC leaders, who last visited Guatemala City in 2012, shortly after his inauguration.

"Our hour-long meeting with President Perez Molina was most constructive," said Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC´S Latino and Latin American Institute, who led the delegation. "We are confident that President Perez Molina understands the importance of supporting face-to-face Israeli-Palestinian talks, and not Palestinian end-runs around the negotiating table.”

President Perez Molina assured the AJC delegation, as well as the Guatemalan Jewish leaders, that the shift regarding the Palestinians would not alter the historically warm ties with Israel. Guatemala will not open an embassy in Ramallah or allow a Palestinian embassy in Guatemala City, he said. The president also added that Guatemala’s positions regarding Middle East issue will remain unchanged at the UN Security Council.

Further, President Perez Molina told the AJC delegation that he will visit Israel in December to convey his government's steadfast commitment to deepening bilateral ties.

Other topics discussed included Iran's continuing efforts to make inroads in the Western Hemisphere; the ongoing U.S. Congress debate on comprehensive immigration reform; and issues of particular concern to the Guatemalan Jewish community.

“We look forward to continue working with Guatemala, as a valued friend of the U.S., on issues of importance to both countries, which include economic development, security, and the fate of undocumented Guatemalans who will benefit from a long-awaited overhaul of the immigration laws," said Siegel Vann.

During the two-day visit to Guatemala, the AJC delegation also met with U.S. Ambassador Arnold Chacon and Israeli Ambassador Moshe Bahar.

Joining Siegel Vann were several members of the AJC Latino and Latin American Institute´s Board of Trustees, including El Salvador Jewish leaders Jean Claude Kahn and Lea Freund; a member of AJC Miami’s Latin American Jewish Task Force, Daniel Goldstein; and the President of Guatemala´s Jewish Community, George Tenenbaum.

AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute was founded in 2005. Based in Washington, D.C., the institute seeks enhanced ties among Jews and Latinos in the U.S. and among the U.S., Latin American nations, and Israel.