Op-Ed via Al Jazeera English

Why did Latin America stop standing up for Palestine?

While most of the world rejected US President Donald Trump's decision to move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, some Latin American leaders have supported it enthusiastically. This may come as a surprise to many; after all the region has been vocal about its support for the Palestinian cause. All Latin American states, except for Colombia and Mexico, recognised the state of Palestine between 2008 and 2013.

But political realities in the region have changed. Paraguay recently became the third country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of the US and Guatemala. Honduras may be next; last month, its Congress passed a resolution urging its foreign ministry to carry out the move. And in December 2017, Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right presidential candidate leading in Brazil's most recent polls, stated that if elected he would follow Trump's controversial decision.

Such developments signal a worrisome shift in support for the Palestinian cause and demonstrate a broader regional trend towards regressive politics.

Many observers are pointing to the fact that Latin America and Israel have ties that date back to 1948. Guatemala pioneered these relations with its immediate recognition of the Israeli state, and more than half of Latin American countries opened embassies in Jerusalem in the years that followed. Yet though Latin America was rather friendly towards Israel until 1967, afterward, relations changed.

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