Israel’s Ambassador Mattanya Cohen called the visit “historic” for being the first lady’s first diplomatic trip without the prime minister. He added that 2018 “has been the best year of diplomatic relations for the two countries,” reported the Guatemalan official news agency AGN.
“I am very moved to leave tonight on a very important mission to Guatemala, at the invitation of my friend, the wife of the Guatemalan president, and together with our delegation, I hope to represent Israel with honor,” Sara Netanyahu said in a Hebrew clip posted in the prime minister’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Sara Netanyahu was invited by her Guatemalan counterpart Patricia Morales to participate in the laying of the foundation stone of a new neighborhood in the village of Jerusalem, which was built to host the displaced victims of the Fuego volcano eruption last June, when Israel sent humanitarian aid.
Several Guatemalan officials attended a ceremony held on Wednesday at the National Palace of Culture, where Sara Netanyahu was named a “peace ambassador.”
Her agenda also includes a formal event about potable water, a meeting with alumni of the Israel Agency for International Development Cooperation — known as Mashav — and a meeting with members of the local 1,200-strong Jewish community, reported Guatemalan news portal Prensa Livre.
Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has stated that the first lady does not have any special legal status and as such has approved her participation in the delegation as a private citizen. Funding for accommodations and transport in Guatemala is by the Guatemalan government, with other costs to be covered by Israel.
Guatemala and Israel have close ties, especially since President Jimmy Morales followed in the footsteps of the United States and moved the country’s embassy to Jerusalem.