Paraguay to move its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv

President Mario Abdo Benitez is reversing predecessor Horacio Cartes's decision to move Paraguay's embassy in Israel

Paraguay said Wednesday it was moving its embassy in Israel back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the closure his country's mission in the South American country in retaliation.

Paraguay's new President Mario Abdo Benitez, who took office in mid-August, took the decision "to contribute to the intensification of regional and international diplomatic efforts that aim to achieve a broad, just and durable peace in the Middle East," his government said.

The original decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv was taken by Abdo Benitez's predecessor Horacio Cartes shortly after President Donald Trump had announced the United States would relocate its own embassy to Jerusalem.

Cartes even joined Netanyahu in the new embassy's opening ceremony in Jerusalem in May.

Abdo Benitez was already president elect at that point and had questioned the decision, complaining that he had not been consulted.

Announcing the move, his government said it considered the return to Tel Aviv "appropriate" but Netanyahu's office replied that the decision had cast a shadow on relations between the two countries.

"The prime minister has asked the foreign ministry to close the Israeli embassy in Paraguay," it said in a statement.

Trump broke with decades of US policy by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, infuriating Palestinians and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with 60 killed in clashes with Israeli forces that day.

His move was followed by Guatemala while the Czech Republic decided to reopen its honorary consulate in Jerusalem as President Milos Zeman voiced his wish to also move its embassy from Tel Aviv.