Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales embarked Monday on a historic visit to Israel.
“I want to thank you, Mr. President, for your personal support and for the support of your country for Israel on the international stage,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Morales, who is making his first visit outside of the Western Hemisphere since taking office in January. “Israel can help greatly in development and innovation in your region and around the world, and we are committed to doing so.”
Morales visited Israel’s Knesset legislature Tuesday. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein noted Guatemala’s critical role in helping establish the state of Israel.
“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. “It could be that without Guatemala, the resolution on that fateful day would not have passed, and history would be very different.”
Morales is a devout evangelical Christian. Shortly after taking office, he visited a synagogue in Guatemala City, where he announced his intention to visit Israel. The Central American leader, who also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he looks forward to bolstering agriculture, science, technology and security ties with Israel.
“In this visit, we want to deepen the dialogue between the two countries and strengthen bilateral ties,” Morales said. “As allies, the excellent relations between our countries will continue.”